Covid-19 has "dealt a body blow" as trust's waiting times soar for routine treatments

The number of patients waiting more than 18 weeks for routine treatment at the York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust soared to a record high in June, new figures reveal

Thursday, 3rd September 2020, 12:12 pm
The number of patients waiting more than 18 weeks for routine treatment at the York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust soared to a record high in June, new figures reveal.

The King's Fund think tank warns the “body blow” inflicted to NHS services by Covid-19 means patients could face long waits for months or even years to come.

Patients referred for non-urgent consultant-led elective care should start treatment within 18 weeks, according to NHS rules.

But NHS data shows 14,538 patients on the waiting list for elective operations or treatment at York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust at the end of June had been waiting longer.

That was 58 per cent of those on the list, up from just 22 per cent the previous June and the highest rate for the month since 2011, the earliest year for which data was available.

Of those who were delayed, 910 had been waiting more than a year.

York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust's figure was ten per cent higher than the national average of 48 per cent.

Nationally, 1.9 million people were still waiting for treatment after 18 weeks in June – the most for any month since records began in 2007.

More than 50,000 had been on the list for more than a year, compared to around 1,000 a year earlier.

NHS trusts are normally expected to make sure no more than 8 per cent of patients are left waiting beyond the 18-week maximum target.

But the thousands of procedures cancelled to free up hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic has created a huge backlog across England.

Gbemi Babalola, senior analyst at the King’s Fund, said the virus has “dealt a body blow to NHS and social care services”.

“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,” she added.

“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.”

A spokesperson for York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “Like other NHS trusts, we are actively planning how we can safely restore and restart some services, which includes risk assessing and prioritising patients by clinical risk and urgency.

“We recognise that having treatment delayed can be frustrating and cause worry for people.

"We understand this and we are making every effort to keep patients informed as our plans progress regarding their appointment or surgery.”

Boris Johnson recently announced NHS trusts across England will receive £300m to upgrade facilities ahead of the winter amid fears of a second wave of the coronavirus.

The Prime Minister said the additional cash would enable hospitals to maintain essential services and reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection during the coming months.

The funding comes from a £1.5bn capital building allocation for the NHS set out by Mr Johnson in June.

But Dr Nick Scriven, former president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said it would “take more than a token cash injection announced by the Prime Minister this week to make up for years of neglect”.

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.”