Long waiting times down to lack of doctors for Welsh patients
'Disappointing' waiting times for Welsh patients are because of a lack of doctors, the chair of BMA Welsh council has said.
Latest statistics show that Wales is behind England in six out of the 11 main categories for procedures and diagnosis.
Patients waited an average of 79 days between April 2016 and March 2017 for heart bypass surgery, compared to England's average wait of 51. In 2015/16, the wait time in Wales was just 43 days.
BMA Welsh council chair David Bailey said: 'The fact that Wales again lags behind England in the majority of waiting and diagnostic times is disappointing.
'As these figures show, we are getting older, and sicker, as a nation. Unfortunately, the resources needed to deal with the increased demand are not in place.
'Long waiting times have a profound impact on patient experience, and leave staff working under increasingly difficult conditions.
'The increase in waiting times was further compounded due to the moratorium on routine surgery during the winter months.
'The problem is quite straight forward; there are not enough doctors working in the Welsh NHS to cope with the ever-increasing workload, and those that are working within the service are working at capacity to provide patients with the care they deserve.
'Doctors are working harder than ever to make sure patients are seen promptly. However, they are frustrated with the lack of action in filling consultant and SAS doctor vacancies across Wales. As well as this we’ve been told that the lack of Operating Department Practitioners has meant that operations have been cancelled – despite the doctor and patient being available.
'More investment is desperately needed to bring doctors to Wales which will, in turn, reduce waiting times.
'The Welsh Government’s Train, Work, Live campaign is going some way to address the shortage, but it will take years before enough doctors are available to meet demand.'