Hospital backlogs worsening for Blackpool patients

The number of people waiting more than a year for routine surgery or treatment at Blackpool Victoria Hospital has continued to increase with 1,301 patients waiting more than 52 weeks at the end of December 2020, an increase of 176 or 16 per cent from the previous month.

Thursday, 18th March 2021, 4:39 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th March 2021, 4:40 pm

Figures presented to Blackpool Council’s adult social care and health scrutiny committee showed the longest waits were in orthopaedics, general surgery and ophthalmology.

At the Spire private hospital, there were 648 patients waiting more than 52 weeks at the end of December 2020, an increase of 165 or 34 per cent since November 2020.

Kevin McGee, chief executive of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said in normal circumstances no-one would have to wait more than a year for their treatment.

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Blackpool Victoria Hospital

But he said work to tackle the backlog was underway, and detailed plans had been submitted to the Department of Health for approval.

One challenge would be to separate Covid patients from non-Covid patients, but this would be more difficult for Blackpool because it did not have separate hospital sites.

Mr McGee said: “But we are as confident as we can be that we will get on top of these long waits.

“The reality is it will take 18 months to two years to really get on top of the backlog.”

However doctors are monitoring patients to ensure those with more serious conditions are prioritised and offered support.

Dr Neil Hartley-Smith, executive director at Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG), said: “We are conducting harm reviews on all patients who are long waiters.

“We are reaching out to make sure they are not suffering and have pro-active mechanisms to mitigate those at risk.”

The latest figures show nearly 65 per cent of patients were seen within 18 weeks in December.

Approximately half of the over 18 week waiters are in orthopaedics, general surgery and gynaecology.

It has been possible to restore services in some areas with day case

activity in December 2020 at 95 per cent of the level in December 2019, and routine inpatient activity at 86 per cent of December 2019.

Virtual appointments are being used to consult with outpatients.

The report to the committee says: “The position in December 2020 highlights the significant impact of the pandemic on elective waiting times.

“To support recovery of the elective backlog, BTH (Blackpool Teaching Hospitals) is working closely with the independent sector (IS) to ensure that those long waiting patients suitable for treatment in the IS are offered the option to transfer to Spire Fylde Coast or other suitable providers.”

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