‘Patients face longer waits for surgery’
PATIENTS are facing longer waits at Wales’ biggest hospital for operations after a claim that 14 theatre staff quit their posts in the last nine months.
Some people who should have undergone procedures in the early part of the summer at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff are still waiting to find out if their ops will go ahead in the next few months, it has been said.
It’s said staff working at the site are being placed under increasing pressure by people waiting to be seen.
A man, who did not wish to be named, said he was left wondering over when he would be admitted.
He said: “I’ve been told 14 theatre staff have left between January and now.
“I was due to have my operation in August but it could be any time between now and November. I haven’t had a letter yet calling me back.
“It was meant to be a nine month wait but I’m still waiting.”
The patient paid tribute to the staff still working at the hospital to help patients and said they understood temporary staff were being drafted in.
“The staff are under huge pressure,” he said. “The receptionist on the department I’m dealing with is doing what she can to get everyone in.
“They have been trying to get locums in and they have been trying to solve the problem – I think it will have a big knock on effect.”
A Cardiff and Vale University Health Board spokesman said: “As a large integrated organisation Cardiff and Vale University Health Board employs more than 14,000 staff.
“Staff leaving and joining the organisation is a constant feature of our workforce changes and this is not unusual. On a UK basis, there are known areas of skilled staffed shortages in healthcare, and operating theatres is one such area.
“Following an intensive recruitment campaign, by October our staff vacancies within our theatre services will have reduced by 70%.
“This is a significant improvement and theatres remain a specialty which is hard to recruit to across the UK. Our ongoing recruitment efforts will be to reduce vacancy levels even further.
“The Health Board continues to make progress in reducing waiting times for planned procedures, including for surgery.
“Over every quarter in the last two years the Health Board has continued to reduce waiting times for patients. We would like to reassure patients that our plans for this year will result in further improvement.”
Dr Trevor Pickersgill, chairman of the BMA’s Welsh consultant committee said: “Long waiting times have a profound impact on patient experience, and leave staff working in increasingly difficult conditions. We hear from members that doctors are “burning out” and leaving the profession – further compounding the problem and increasing the over-reliance on locums covering posts.
“BMA Cymru Wales has continually raised concerns around the recruitment and retention of doctors in the Welsh NHS with the Welsh government.
“Doctors are working harder than ever to make sure patients are seen promptly. However, they are frustrated by the lack of action in filling consultant and SAS doctor vacancies across Wales. 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.
“It is in the best interest of patients that this is addressed.”