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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 July, 2004, 14:09 GMT 15:09 UK
Pledge to cut orthopaedic wait
Doreen Coliandris
Doreen Coliandris has been waiting a year for hip surgery
Orthopaedic patients in Wales are being promised shorter waiting times with the launch of a five-year plan.

The programme aims to improve access to services, provide more beds and work towards preventing orthopaedic problems developing in patients.

The Welsh Assembly Government launched the plan on Thursday.

First Minister Rhodri Morgan said the strategy would allow the NHS to meet an increased demand on services due to Wales' ageing population.

People just can't live like this, because you're not living
Patient Doreen Coliandris
It has been developed by consultants and professional advisers and sets out the long-term future of orthopaedic services in Wales.

The number of patients waiting longer than 18 months for surgery has fallen, but waits for surgery remain longer in the Welsh NHS than in England.

Mr Morgan said the reduction of hospital waiting times was high on his administration's agenda.

He added: "We have heard time and time again that people in Wales are having to wait too long for treatment in Wales.

"But over the past five years we have seen significant reductions in the number of people waiting over 18 months for an orthopaedic inpatient or day case operation from 1,356 in April 1999 to just nine in April 2004.

'Significant changes'

"With a growing elderly population and increasing expectations, demand for trauma and orthopaedic services in Wales is growing."

Welsh Health Minister Jane Hutt said the changes aimed to benefit medical staff as well as patients.

She added: "This plan is going to bring about significant changes in the way orthopaedic services are delivered in Wales.

We will increase capacity where it is needed, but this will have to be alongside a culture of working differently
Jane Hutt

"We will, of course, increase capacity where it is needed, but this will have to be alongside a culture of working differently.

"I want to ensure that orthopaedic patients across Wales receive the most appropriate treatment for them in the quickest possible time."

Hip x-ray
Wait times for orthopaedic treatment have been reduced
The scheme is intended to speed up treatment times for patients such as Doreen Coliandris, 68, of Cardiff, who has been on a hospital list for two new hips for a year.

Mrs Coliandris said arthritis had affected her quality of life and her condition has worsened while she has been on a waiting list.

"People just can't live like this, because you're not living," said Mrs Coliandris.

"We can't do anything - (we are) very tired. We should be enjoying ourselves, but we can't.

"About two years ago, I went to my doctor," she said. "He told me my hips were very bad with arthritis, and he would send off to the hospital to make an appointment.

"I've been in continuous pain for all that time and it's just getting worse.

"I may walk to the bus stop but it takes me twice as long as it used to take me.

"My husband has to do all the housework and shopping."

Mr Morgan and Ms Hutt launched the scheme at Llandough Hospital, Penarth, on Thursday.




SEE ALSO:
Hip patient's nine-year wait
23 Jun 04  |  Wales
OAP may sue over op wait
28 Oct 03  |  Wales



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