A couple who have been waiting for an operation for 18 months fear about the future of orthopaedic surgery at Withybush hospital.

Stuart Rathbone, 58, started noticing hip trouble back in October 2019 and was put on a ‘P3 priority list’ – which means the patient is to be treated within three months – in around January 2020.

Stuart, who resides in Fishguard, has still not had his operation.

Stuart said he has had to sleep in a chair for the last 18 months because lying down causes too much pain. He also lost his job as a herdsman.

“It has been awkward for me because this has dragged on now,” said Stuart.

“I cannot work. I am in constant pain and cannot lie down.”

Stuart’s wife Alison, 53, is furious with what has happened to her husband and fears for the future of orthopaedic surgery at Withybush Hospital.

“I am incensed. To watch somebody you love in so much pain. Sometimes he has been in tears because his mental health has gone through the floor.

“Normally he’s an active person, now he cannot even sleep in his bed. It’s awful.”

“There are so many people waiting for orthopaedic surgery and there is nowhere to get it done. We are thinking is this a step in winding down Withybush.”

Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “We are facing multiple challenges, including an increase in Covid patients being admitted to hospitals.

“This has impacted on our ability to treat elective orthopaedic patients and waiting lists have grown as a result.

“We are currently able to undertake limited inpatient and day case surgery at Bronglais Hospital, and day case surgery only at Withybush Hospital.

“Inpatient orthopaedic surgery was postponed at Withybush in July, as was all orthopaedic surgery at Prince Phillip Hospital in early September for the above reasons.

“The potential to restart and/or increase this throughput is reviewed daily.”