All non-urgent surgery at four major hospitals in mid and west Wales is to be stopped over the winter, according to health chiefs.
Knee replacement surgery may be halted
Hywel Dda Health Board has said it will halt some, if not all, elective orthopaedic surgery operations such as hip and knee operations to ease pressure on services.
Hospitals in Aberystwyth, Caramarthen, Haverfordwest and Llanelli will be affected and the decision has been criticised by the health service union Unison.
Unison believes that the move would result in longer delays for patients who have been waiting for surgery and treatment.
The health board say that it would review the proposals near the end of the winter but Unison claims the board is cancelling all non-urgent orthopaedic surgery until April 2014.
Director of clinical services at Hywel Dda, Dr Phil Kloer, spoke to BBC Wales about the decisions to stop any more elective surgeries being booked over the winter period. He emphasised that emergency cases and already booked elective orthopaedic surgery would not be affected.
Dr Kloer said: “In the past few years, we’ve seen too many last-minute cancellations for operations due to emergency admissions.
“In previous winters, we had nearly 160 additional beds in place often being managed by temporary staff. This is not a position we can sustain this year.”
The health board have said that people on the waiting list without a date for surgery may be offered alternative treatment of day surgery depending on their situation.
Wendy Evans, Unison bran chairwoman, said: "The health board already has a waiting time of 15 months for patients awaiting orthopaedic surgery.
"This will clearly add at least another five to six months to their waiting time, causing further distress and possibly further complications to their condition."
Health insurance can let you bypass lengthy NHS waiting lists and you can get private health care at a hospital of your choice at a time that suits you.
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