‘Error’ Leads to Removal of Patients from Surgery Waiting Lists in Swansea Bay


A new report reveals that patients waited over five years for surgeries due to errors by the health board that caused them to lose their spots on waiting lists. The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales criticized Swansea Bay health board for treating patients unfairly due to severe mistakes with waiting lists for surgeries such as knee and hip replacements. The health board has apologized and accepted all recommendations from the watchdog, which investigated after three patients were erroneously removed from lists.

The health board is already under the second highest level of Welsh government oversight due to concerns about reducing waiting times. Ombudsman Michelle Morris stated that the three cases investigated showed a “clear injustice to the patients” and questioned the health board’s management of its entire waiting list.

One patient, referred to as Mrs B in the report, suffered “severe pain” while waiting since 2018 for treatment. Despite needing surgery for both hips, she was taken off the waiting list for her right hip after her left hip was treated, resulting in a wait of over five years before both hips were operated on.

Another patient, Mr C, waited three years and seven months for left hip surgery, despite an assessment stating it needed to be done within a month. His place on the waiting list was reset and then removed entirely. A third patient, Mr D, was wrongly removed from a waiting list for shoulder surgery when he missed appointments because he was already in hospital for another illness. He received his shoulder treatment more than five years after first being put on the list, with 65 months of waiting in pain significantly affecting his wellbeing.

The ombudsman found that all patients had their hopes falsely raised by the health board that they would be treated sooner. The investigation also discovered long delays for all patients awaiting orthopaedic surgery due to issues like staff shortages, lack of operating spaces, and unclear management arrangements. The health board was advised to review its decisions and audit all waiting lists to identify if similar errors occurred with other patients.

Swansea Bay health board confirmed it is implementing the recommendations fully and apologized to the three patients whose surgeries were delayed due to management failings. The health board stated that all three patients have now received their operations and it is reviewing its orthopaedic waiting lists to ensure there are no similar cases. It also noted that orthopaedic services are currently under immense pressure, but it expects no patients to have waited more than three years by the end of March. The health board was put into targeted intervention by Health Minister Eluned Morgan on Tuesday, partly due to inadequate progress on reducing patient waiting times.

You may also like...