Heart surgery outside Wales helped cut waiting lists

The Royal Brompton in London Image copyright PA
Image caption The Royal Brompton in London treated 135 heart patients from west and mid Wales

Giving 260 heart patients surgery outside Wales - including at a private hospital - has helped cut waiting times, says a health service review.

Waiting lists dipped below 350 patients by June this year - with most waiting under 10 weeks.

That is half the 700 waiting for heart surgery at the start of 2014 - with 290 patients in Cardiff and Swansea waiting more than six months.

Patients have also backed the initiative after their treatment.

Those surveyed after surgery gave the project a high satisfaction rating.

It saw them offered treatment at hospitals in London, Bristol and Birmingham, as a temporary measure to tackle the Welsh waiting lists.

A review by the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee (WHSSC) looked at how effective outsourcing surgery had been.

Swansea success

It found "significant numbers" of patients had benefited and "many more no longer live with the uncertainty of very long treatment waits".

The review said the project was particularly successful in Swansea, where 126 cardiac patients on the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg list were given surgery outside Wales, mostly at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London.

The Swansea cardiac waiting list fell by around 320 patients overall, partly due to better management and improved processes.

More than 100 patients were also treated at Bristol's private Spire Hospital and at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

The decision to treat patients outside Wales came after concerns by the Royal College of Surgeons two years ago that patients were "regularly dying on waiting lists" at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

The Cardiff and Vale health board brought in a series of measures, including recruiting extra staff and introducing weekend working.

More on this story