Concern as hospital waiting times take a ‘dramatic’ dip

Interim chief executive of the OCCG Ian Wilson

Interim chief executive of the OCCG Ian Wilson

First published in News

HEALTH managers have raised concerns about a “dramatic” worsening of hospital waiting times including a 10-month wait for hip surgery.

Managers who decide where NHS cash is spent spoke out over missed targets for treatments for such illnesses as cancer and said a hospital action plan had not been accepted.

Of 18 specialities at hospitals like Oxford's John Radcliffe, five have missed a waiting target for at least six months since April.

They are urology; ear, nose and throat; ophthalmology; neurosurgery and plastic surgery. Nine missed it in at least one month.

One woman had waited more than 10 months for hip surgery, a report by Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) said.

It said: “The long wait had led to both pain and disruption to her life. Despite the wait they were still being offered a date in mid-April.”

But it said she had been given an appointment last month after the OCCG “intervened”.

It comes after we last month reported Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust was to miss a key waiting target – for at least 90 per cent of patients to be seen within 18 weeks – to clear a “backlog” of procedures. It is now doing more work at weekend and looking to other healthcare providers to carry out the work.

But the OCCG report said it is “concerned that there should be no clinical risk to these patients, whether through movement to another provider or by the length of stay they have waited”.

It said lists that track patients had not being “actively managed” and changes in patient recording systems, “capacity issues” and spikes in emergency patients led to the backlog.

An action plan was rejected over a “lack of clear milestones, clear and specific actions, and the lack of ownership by clinicians”.

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Lay OCCG vice chairman Ian Busby said: “What is causing this dramatic decline in performance? They are dramatic, they are very, very dramatic.”

South west locality clinical director Dr Gavin Bartholomew questioned: “Is there a great level of concern in [the hospital trust] about the number of targets it is failing?’’ An OCCG report said hospital bosses had put forward action plans to deal with the waits but said: “The CCG has not accepted this plan and is taking action to address this issue.”

Interim chief executive Ian Wilson, pictured below, said OCCG must have good relations with hospital managers: “The adversarial approach has been tried and failed.”

Hospital trust director of clinical services Paul Brennan told the Oxford Mail: “We are sorry for any delays experienced by our patients. We do not want any patient to be waiting longer than necessary and we are working hard with all our healthcare partners, including Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG), to improve waiting times.”

He said a “large increase” in outpatient appointments – which do not require an overnight stay – had “resulted in a pressure on services in some areas”.

Figures under the microscope

FIGURES for patients paid for by OCCG show the scale of problems across hospital specialities.
The figures – for all providers, not just OUHT – show a target that at least 90 per cent of patients are seen within 18 weeks has been missed every month since March 2013 –  53.4 per cent in December and 70 in January.
And six patients waited more than 52 weeks, of which five were at
hospitals run by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust (OUHT).
Some 250 or 94 per cent – target of 96 per cent – got their first treatment within a target of 31 days. But 13
waited longer.
But 83.9 per cent got their second treatment in this time against a target of 94 per cent; 31 treated in this time and five waiting longer.
Radiotherapy waits were worse with 30 waiting over 31 days as a
second treatment – 73.2 per cent against a 94 per cent target.
The 62-day target is the very longest a cancer patient should wait and 74 per cent got treatment in this time for an urgent GP referral to first
treatment, meaning 159 were seen is this time and 40 waited longer.

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