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Health Minister, Eluned Morgan, meets a call handler from the Hywel Dda Health Board Waiting List Support Service.

Extra support for people on waiting lists could prevent some of the 6,000 cancelled NHS treatments

Gallai cymorth ychwanegol i bobl ar restrau aros y GIG helpu i arbed rhai o’r  6,000 o driniaethau sy’n cael eu canslo

Health Minister Eluned Morgan has launched a new policy to support people waiting for treatment, which will help prevent some of the 6,000 last-minute cancellations of treatment on the NHS in Wales.

The 3Ps Waiting Well Policy will ensure that support and information is easily accessible to those who waiting for treatment.

The 3Ps are: Promoting healthy behaviours, Preventing deconditioning whilst waiting, and Preparing for treatment and recovery.

People waiting for treatment will get one single point of contact at the health board, who will listen to their concerns, advise on healthy behaviours to better manage their symptoms and signpost them to a wide variety of resources and services.

They will also help people prepare for treatment to ensure they get the best results, this will include access to services like exercise classes, in-person or remote.

Some health boards, like Hywel Dda, are already providing these services, but this new Welsh Government policy will ensure these services are available across Wales by the start of next summer.

Between April 2022 to March 2023, there were 6,350 last-minute cancellations of procedures.

Of those postponed:

  • 4,860 procedures were because the patient said they were unfit for the procedure. 
  • 300 were because the patient had a pre-existing medical condition. 
  • 1,130 were because the hospital said the patient was unfit with an acute illness.
  • 60 were because they were unsuitable for a day case procedure.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said:

“We know that effective preparation is vital for people to get the best results from their treatment, and it can help prevent last minute cancellations.

“Last year in NHS Wales there were over 6,000 last minute cancellations, many due to ill-health. Last minute cancellations mean wasted resources – it’s a loss of consultant and surgeon time when that space could have been offered to someone else.

“With the 3Ps policy, people will be empowered to take responsibility for their own health and well-being, with information and support available via a range of resources and formats to enable people to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

“It will also empower people to better self-manage their condition whilst waiting, providing advice on pain management and what to do to if their symptoms deteriorate.

“Support will also be provided on how to best prepare for treatment and recovery. This will prevent last-minute cancellations and ensure people get the best results from their treatment. By keeping in regular contact with the people waiting for resources, health boards can also better plan for postponements if needed.”

Earlier this week the Minister visited the Waiting List Support Service and the Virtual Orthopaedic Prehabilitation Service in Hywel Dda University Health Board which has been running since 2021 when it was set up in response to the COVID pandemic.

Mandy Rayani, Director of Nursing, Quality and Patient Experience at Hywel Dda University Health Board said:

“The Waiting List Support Service provides a valuable service to patients in the Hywel Dda area who are waiting for treatment. Our staff are available to support and advise individuals on a broad range of issues – from physical fitness to general wellbeing - and work with them to ensure that they are as fit as possible and ready for their treatment when the time comes.

The service is aimed at ensuring that patients are fit and ready, supported while they wait, and help us to minimise the number of procedures that need to be cancelled and rescheduled due to patients worsening health conditions.”

Eluned Morgan added:

“The service in Hywel Dda is a best practice model which will be rolled out across all other health boards in the next 12 months. This will see patients benefit and services improve across Wales.”

Notes to editors

A Hywel Dda University Health Board Waiting List Support Service patient said:

“Staff were well informed and listened to what was being said. They showed empathy and understanding of the current situation with regards to waiting lists and additional resources available to support patients on waiting lists.”

A Virtual Orthopaedic Prehabilitation Service patient added:

“I’ve done exercise that I would not have done on my own, through fear I might damage something else. I thoroughly enjoyed the programme and have benefited a lot from it. I am managing my pain much better and is actually taking less pain relief and have increased my average steps a day to almost 4000 from 2500.”

“I think the programme is great, I’ve learnt a lot in the first weeks that will help me as I wait for surgery and also after it, I wasn’t used to using technology before, but I am getting more and more confident and enjoying it.”