Pandemic leaves 600 waiting over a year for treatment

More than 600 people waited more than a year to be admitted for hospital treatment at the South Tyneside and Sunderland Trust because of the pandemic, new figures show.

Friday, 8th October 2021, 11:21 am
Dr Shaz Wahid

NHS Digital statistics show around 665 patients needing non-emergency care at the Trust had waited more than 12 month to be checked into hospital in the year to March following the initial decision to admit them.

Of those, 145 waited more than 18 months.

The Trust says staff are working hard to clear the backlog and restore as many routine services as possible – prioritising people who have waited the longest.

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Sunderland Royal Hospital

Dr Shaz Wahid. medical director at the Trust, said: “Our teams continue to work tirelessly to restore as many routine services as possible, prioritising those who have waited the longest and being mindful that some patients will choose to postpone their treatment in light of COVID-19.

“In August, 86% of all patients were waiting less than the national standard of 18 weeks for treatment, with almost half of those waiting less than six weeks. “Last month, we were placed in the top 27 out of 159 Trusts nationally.

"We continue to work hard to recall people for their planned operations and procedures, and further reducing waiting lists.”

He also said the Trust is pressing ahead with plans to improve the surgical procedure system to better deal with future pressures on the NHS.

Nationally, more than 95,000 patients admitted for non-urgent treatment in 2020-21 had been waiting for more than a year – up from around 42,000 the year before.

The Patients Association charity said patients should be given "honest timescales" for treatment and advice.

Chief executive Rachel Power said: "The NHS must understand the impact on patients when planned care is cancelled or when you've no clear idea of when you may get care, and act in response.

"This means clear communication to patients and giving clear expectations about what might happen next."

A spokeswoman for the NHS said caring for 450,000 Covid-19 patients in hospital had had an inevitable impact on the health service's ability to deliver care for less urgent conditions.

She said: “The NHS has laid out its plan for the next six months, which includes £1.5bn of funding to support the continued recovery of waiting lists and cancer services.”