Thousands of patients in Cardiff and Vale are having operations for cataracts in mobile theatres to help increase capacity and cut waiting times.
The £1.4m ophthalmic hub featuring two theatres at the University Hospital of Wales are part of the Welsh Government’s ambitious plan to transform planned care in Wales and cut waiting times over the next four years.
As the NHS and care system is facing unprecedented pressure, the hub allows patients to be seen entirely in the unit without having to visit the main hospital.
The mobile theatres have increased cataract activity from 138 patients per month to 400 per month on average.
The hub will be on site until January 2023 and will enable procedures to be carried out five days a week.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan has previously announced an extra £60m for planned care transformation – £15m a year over the next four years. This is in addition to the previously announced £680m to help the NHS recover from the pandemic.
The plan to tackle the backlog has set out a series of targets for health boards, including:
- No one will be waiting longer than a year for their first outpatient appointment by the end of 2022
- Eliminating two-year waiting times in most specialities by March 2023
- No one will be waiting more than a year in most specialties by Spring 2025
- 80% of people to receive their cancer diagnosis and start treatment within 62 days by 2026.
Minister for Health and Social Services Eluned Morgan said:
Mobile theatres are just one of the ways we can increase capacity in hospitals to ensure people waiting for appointments and treatment are seen as quickly as possible.
“With continued pressure on the NHS, reducing waiting times is one of key priorities and I have set out how we will tackle the planned care backlog with new solutions, more equipment, new facilities and more staff.
“We are committed to working with our fantastic NHS to ensure no one faces a long wait for the treatment they need.
Siene Ng, Consultant Ophthalmologist and Clinical Lead for the Mobile Theatres project said:
This exciting development has been a significant step for us on our journey to improve clinical services for patients and help restore some normality not only for our staff but also for our patients who have been waiting for treatment.