Fewer patients waiting for more than 52 weeks at west Herts hospitals
West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust operates hospitals in Hemel Hempstead, Watford and St Albans
The number of patients who have waited more than 52-weeks for hospital treatment in west Hertfordshire is dropping “at an impressive rate”, say Trust officials.
In January last year (2020), at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic there were no patients who had been waiting for treatment at West Herts hospitals for more than 52 weeks.
But in February this year, the number of ‘long-waiters’ at the Trust’s hospitals peaked at 1,733.
Data reported to a meeting of the West Herts Hospitals Trust board on Thursday, July 1, shows that the number of patients waiting 52-weeks or longer has steadily dropped, to 1162 by the end of May.
And now latest indications from the Trust, which will be subject to validation, suggests that this week that number could have dropped below 900.
That’s a decrease of almost half – that’s 50 per cent – in less than five months months.
And in a statement issued by the Trust, chief operating officer Sally Tucker said: “We are always very sorry when patients experience delay in their treatment, but we are pleased to say we have achieved almost a 50 per cent reduction in 52 week waits compared to the number in February.
“We restored a small amount of planned surgery for urgent and cancer care patients across the trust in March and have steadily increased this activity every month.
“We are also continuing to use independent sector providers to support the reduction in long waits.
“We do have to balance our improvements with the need to prioritise urgent and time critical care which can limit progress, but our staff work tirelessly to keep our patients safe and identify patients with the highest clinical priority.”
According to the latest verified data from May – reported to the board on July 1 – there are 12 patients who have been waiting for 104 weeks or longer.
And the hospital speciality with the highest number of ‘long waiters’, as of the end of May, is ‘trauma and orthopaedics’, with 252.
The independent sector, says the report, is being used to support a number of specialities which is impacting on waiting times.
But, it was also reported, activity has to be balanced with the prioritisation of urgent and time critical care.
The median waiting time – that’s the time half the patients on a treatment pathway are waiting – is said to be 8.4 weeks. And that’s better than the national median, which is said to be 11 weeks.