WELSH patients needing hip replacements are waiting more than twice as long as people in England for their operations, it is revealed this week.

Government figures show that patients in Wales wait six months for treatment, wheras in England, patients can expect to be operated on within 11 weeks.

And with the Hywel Dda health board cutting the number of orthopaedic operations it carries out this winter by half, waiting times in Pembrokeshire are going to get even longer, said MP Simon Hart.

Mr Hart and Welsh shadow health minister Darren Millar launched a joint investigation into waiting times after contact from concerned constituents.

Amongst them was 57-year-old Athena Williams from Milton, who was told that she would need to wait between 12 and 18 months for a hip replacement operation.

Mrs Williams retired from her job as a nurse practitioner in Pembroke two years ago after working in the National Health Service for 40 years.

She used nearly £10,000 of her pension money to pay for her operation to be carried out privately, and came home from hospital on Tuesday of last week.

“For the last two years, my hip had felt very weak with a great deal of discomfort, and I hadn’t been able to walk very far,” she said this week. “There was no way I could wait for 12 to 18 months - I’ve got things I want to do in my life.

“Fortunately I could afford to pay for the operation, and I feel that it was money well spent, but that should not have to happen.

“I am particularly concerned about the discrepancy in waiting times between Wales and England - I have relatives in the Midlands who have been told they would only have to wait two or three months.”

Mr Hart and Mr Millar, Assembly Member for Clwyd West, were given their figures by Welsh health minister, Mark Drakeford and Jane Ellison MP, under-secretary of state for public health.

This revealed that the average waiting time for a hip replacement in Wales in 2012 was 169 days - or just over six months - while in England it was 78 days.

Said Mr Hart: “We are hearing first-hand from constituents that we are getting a second-class health service in Weales, and now we have the figures to prove it.”

Added Mr Millar: “There can be no excuses for the wide disparity in performance between England and Wales - Welsh patients desrve to have timely access to treatment such as hip operations, and delays can cause misery to them and their loved ones.

“The Welsh Labour government must get a grip of this situation and ensure that the NHS has the resources it needs to provide the high-quality care which the public rightly demand.”