HEALTH chiefs have been urged to do everything they can to clear a backlog of waiting patients before health conditions cause permanent damage.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board announced recently that it is to slowly restart many of the services put on hold by covid.

Geoff Ryall-Harvey, chief officer at the North Wales Community Health Council said he has concerns that the scale of the waiting list across all fields could potentially overwhelm the health board if it isn't tackled effectively.

"It's good news that these services are restarting," he said.

"I am expecting them to prioritise patients where any further delay could cause permanent harm.

"We're hearing a lot of concern from people who were due tests months ago for urgent things like cancer and still haven't had them.

"It is difficult to get a handle on the size of the problem but in its recent referral to treatment figures as of July 31, there were more than 30,000 people who have waited more than 36 weeks for treatment.

"And it's the same everywhere - I wouldn't single Betsi Cadwaladr out.

"The normal solution would be to search for other health providers within a reasonable distance and see if they have spare capacity.

"But everyone is in the same position. Nobody has any spare capacity. "So the health board has a massive challenge in getting those figures down, whether they are waiting for tests or procedures."

Speaking of his message to health board bosses, he continued: "Do everything you can. Patients are depending on you."

Mr Ryall-Harvey also urged patients to speak to their GPs if they experience any change in their condition.

A Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board spokesman said: "In line with other NHS organisations, we will be scheduling patient’s treatment in order of clinical priority.

"However, patients will need to be prepared for longer waits than anticipated prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"If you are having elective surgery at one of our hospitals, you will be given a COVID-19 test and then asked to self-isolate before your admission into hospital.

"If there has been any change in your clinical condition, please contact your GP.

"If you have any further questions, please use the information provided on your appointment letter(s) to contact the relevant service."

The latest information for each of the health board's services can be found here: