Longer treatment waits expected as health services restart
The local health board is warning patients to be prepared for longer waits as it restarts services that were impacted due to the immediate response to the pandemic.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is slowly opening up services that were cut back to allow for treatment of those with the novel coronavirus.
Recent figures showed the number of people waiting a year or more for treatment had quadrupled over the past 12 months to July 31.
However it seems this situation could continue for a while after it announced changes to the way people would be prioritised.
While clinical need (choosing the most urgent cases for treatment first) has always been a factor in who gets priority, how long people have waited was also a consideration.
Yet the virus is still circulating so Betsi will now prioritise people on clinical need and the board has warned it could mean extended waits for some people, with social distancing still in force.
Dr Kate Clark, secondary care medical director for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said: “Although COVID-19 has caused significant disruption to our services we have continued to prioritise those patients across North Wales who are in need of the most urgent care, such as those who need cancer surgery.
“We are now beginning to slowly re-start some of our routine services that have been postponed during the pandemic.
“We have prioritised waiting lists so that we can offer patients access to treatments in order of clinical priority.
“However, some patients will experience longer waits to be seen for their treatment.
“It is important that we bring back our services where we can, but only where that can be done safely – the virus is still circulating and our priority is to keep our patients and staff as safe as possible.”
One area with a large log-jam of patients, orthopaedics, has already reopened some services.
Urgent operations are being conducted at the Spire Yale Hospital in Wrexham, while day cases are being seen at Abergele Hospital already.
Urgent day case surgery is expected to restart in Ysbyty Gwynedd in early September with urgent elective surgery planned for the end of the month.
Clinical Lead for orthopaedics at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, Mr Ian Starks, said: “We were pleased to begin our lists at Spire Yale Hospital earlier this month for our most urgent patients waiting for arthroplasty surgery and other urgent treatments.
“It is important we restart surgery in a safe manner during these uncertain times as we want to ensure our patients are safe when they come into hospital for their treatment.”
Routine telephone appointments have restarted for the most urgent outpatients with routine follow up telephone clinics continuing as normal.
Full a more comprehensive list of where services are, visit:
By Jez Hemming – BBC Local Democracy Reporter
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