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Reducing the trauma and orthopedic backlog in Wales

Thousands of trauma and orthopaedic patients across the country are waiting longer than the NHS standard to see specialists, but one health board is slashing waiting times by treating patients in the evenings and at weekends.

Like other hospitals across the UK recovering from the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, Swansea Bay University Health Board (SBUHB) was facing higher than normal trauma and orthopaedic wait lists, with over 8,300 people waiting 36+ weeks for treatment in November 2021 when compared to just 1,195 in April 2019 [1].

As part of their COVID-19 Recovery Plan, in November 2021, SBUHB commenced work with HBSUK – a leading provider of NHS insourcing services across the UK – who implemented the unique approach of utilising home and away teams – clinicians from the trust and external clinicians – who are brought in to collaboratively work at SBUHB’s facilities during out-of-hours times. 

In as little as four weeks, the project was mobilised, consisting of the new hybrid teams working across one-stop pre-assessment clinics and theatres every other weekend. Bringing in more clinicians has boosted capacity, resulting in SBUHB significantly reducing their backlog, seeing 601 hand operations and almost 100 additional joint replacement patients over the course of ten months.

Craig Wilson, Deputy Chief Operating Officer at Swansea Bay University Health Board, said:

“We have been working with HBSUK for just over 10 months. The initial focus was on orthopaedics with weekly lists for hip and knees replacements and hand procedures. During this time they have facilitated the treatment of over 500 patients requiring hand procedures. Since March 22 they have also been undertaking cataract procedures with over 400 patients treated, which has had a major impact on reducing the backlog of patients that had developed during the pandemic.”

Following this achievement and step toward recovery, SBUHB’s partnership with HBSUK continues and HBSUK are now providing similar additional capacity in other specialty areas, including breast clinics and cataract operations.

Notes to Editor


At HBSUK, our focus is on giving people choice in accessing the right care to meet their needs when it’s needed. Our digital first approach via our triage platform, Virtual Lucy™, ensures all cases are assessed by clinical specialists typically within 72 hours. Patients interact with us at their convenience and from where they want. For our NHS clients we have reduced waiting list backlogs by deploying clinical teams in less than 4 weeks The HBSUK Medical Board includes some of the country’s most senior clinicians, who oversee all services. We can provide long term support or be brought in to solve a specific issue, while improving pathways and leaving sustainable improvements.

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