Sunderland hospital Trust treatment waiting times hit record high
The number of patients waiting too long for routine treatment at the South Tyneside and Sunderland Trust soared to a record high in June, new figures reveal.
Patients referred for non-urgent consultant-led elective care should start treatment within 18 weeks, according to NHS rules.
But NHS data shows that, in June, 9,195 patients on the waiting list for elective operations or treatment at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust – which runs Sunderland Royal Hospital – had been waiting longer because of the coronavirus crisis.
That was 43% of those on the list – up from just eight per cent the previous June – and the highest rate for the month for the trust or its predecessors since 2011, the earliest year for which data was available.
Of those, 70 had been waiting more than a year.
NHS trusts are normally expected to make sure no more than eight per cent of patients are left waiting beyond the 18-week maximum target.
The pandemic has created a huge national backlog – with 1.9 million people waiting for treatment after 18 weeks in June – the most for any month since records began in 2007.
At 48% of those on the waiting list, it was also the worst performance on record.
The King's Fund think tank says the “body blow” inflicted to NHS services by Covid-19 means patients could face long waits for months or even years to come.
Gbemi Babalola, senior analyst at the King’s Fund, said: “The sheer scale of pent up demand for healthcare services, and the ongoing challenges facing staff during the pandemic mean there is a long and difficult road ahead.
“Health and care leaders are already bracing for an intense winter spike in demand, and patients should expect long waits for care to continue for many months and maybe years to come.”
An NHS spokesman said: "Now that the NHS has managed the first wave of coronavirus, there is an important job to do to help people whose planned care was postponed to protect their own safety, and that’s exactly what local health services are doing, while also remaining ready for any future increase in Covid cases.”