Report Date

11/01/2024

Case Against

Swansea Bay University Health Board

Subject

Referral to treatment time

Case Reference Number

202200425

Outcome

Upheld in whole or in part

Mrs C complained on behalf of her husband Mr C, that he had waited a long time for orthopaedic surgery and that their understanding of how he would be treated was not managed well regarding the pre-operative assessments.

The waiting time for orthopaedic surgery at the Health Board is more than 4 years. The Health Board had issues including not enough staff, not enough suitable places to operate, unclear management arrangements, and unclear processes for these operations.

The Ombudsman identified that in this and 2 other cases, in addition to the long delays experienced by all patients awaiting orthopaedic surgery, the complainants had been treated unfairly because of errors in the way the waiting lists were managed. These issues raised the Ombudsman’s concerns about how the waiting list has been managed.
Mr C, who had been assessed as needing surgery within a month, waited 43 months (3 years 7 months) for surgery in severe pain. During that time his position on the waiting list was reset in error and he was also removed from the list in error.

Mr C was also put through the stress and pain of pre-operative assessments when the Health Board would have been aware that it was unable to provide surgery before the pre-operative assessment expired, but it failed to take this into account or tell Mr C.

The Ombudsman noted that the Health Board has taken action to address the length of its waiting lists so made no recommendations about that. However, because of the issues identified she has asked the Health Board to review the decisions it made in respect of Mr C. The Health Board was also asked to audit the whole of its waiting list to establish whether errors had been made on the waiting list times or improper removal from the list for other patients and if so, it should apologise to those patients and correct the errors.