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Restarting planned care

In recent weeks, the number of people in our hospitals with COVID-19 has started to fall, as have the number of cases in our communities.

We are now at a stage to restart those elements of routine non-urgent care that have been paused, and begin to catch up on the backlog of people waiting.

There are currently over 40,000 patients awaiting treatment over 52 weeks across North Wales, and as we begin to restart planned care our focus will be on those people who are most in need of urgent treatment. 

Professor Arpan Guha, Acting Executive Medical Director of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said: “During March 2020, as the first national lockdown took place, we made the difficult decision to pause routine and non-urgent care to ensure enough staff and facilities were available to care for the sickest patients, especially those needing critical care.

“We would like to thank those patients whose appointments and procedures have been postponed for their patience and understanding of the changes which have had to be made over the last year.

“We know this is a worrying time for people waiting for treatment. We are looking at a range of measures to work as efficiently as possible, ensuring people with the highest clinical need are prioritised for treatment at the earliest opportunity.

“We will be contacting all of our patients who have already been waiting a long time for treatment to ask whether their situation has changed or whether they still require treatment as part of a review, supported by the Community Health Council, which will help prioritise patients for treatment.

“The review will also help identify patients whose symptoms have subsided or have accessed treatment elsewhere for their condition.

“Patients will also have an option to choose to leave their waiting list. A clinician will review any patient who chooses to be removed from the waiting list.

“We know how hard this has been for people who have patiently waited, sometimes in very difficult circumstances, and we ask that people continue to be patient and respectful to our staff as we do our best to reach as many people as quickly as possible.”

Some of the areas where people have been waiting the longest for treatment are:

• Orthopaedics, for example hip and knee replacements

• General Surgery, for example as gall stone removals and hernias

• Urology, for example cyst removals

• Ophthalmology, for example cataract surgery

• Gynaecology, for example a hysterectomy

Our clinical teams will be looking at who has the greatest clinical need, and prioritising patients based on clinical need as each service restarts.

We may be asking people to have their procedures in a different hospital to the one they may have expected to have gone to, including the use of the independent sector. This is to help us provide treatment as quickly as possible.

Throughout the pandemic we have worked incredibly hard to separate people with COVID from those who do not have the virus when they come to hospital or use any of our other services. We want to reassure people that this will continue to be our top priority and all the plans being put in place will take into account the COVID risks which are likely to remain with us for some time. This includes the continued use of technology to provide care remotely where appropriate for example using virtual consultations.

For further information visit: Restarting planned care - Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (nhs.wales)