Thousands of Blackpool patients facing long waits for hospital care
NHS services in Blackpool missed most of their performance targets in 2020/21 with thousands of patients having long waits for treatment, the latest annual report has shown.
But health chiefs said this reflected the massive challenges faced by the NHS during the Covid pandemic and was a situation repeated around the country.
The Blackpool CCG (clinical commissioning group) performance report shows the number of patients on waiting lists for hospital treatment increased to 18,808 in March this year from 16,504 in March 2020.
There were 1,873 Blackpool CCG patients waiting more than a year for hospital treatment in March 2021, compared to just 12 in March the previous year.
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals had 1,717 patients waiting more than a year in March 2021, up from 17 in March last year.
Government targets say no patients should have to wait more than a year.
The figures were presented to Blackpool Council’s Adult Social Care and Health Scrutiny Committee, whose members called for action to address the situation.
Coun Maxine Callow said: “I found this report depressing reading. I know the NHS has had a hard time recently, but let’s hope now we have a new health minister he can concentrate on the job in hand.
“Then perhaps things will improve for the health service for the good of the nation.”
There was better news for cancer patients, with more than 95 per cent of patients seen within two weeks of a referral, ahead of the 93 per cent target and an improvement on last year’s figures of 89 per cent.
Dr Neil Hartley Smith, clinical director at Blackpool CCG, said NHS services had been battling to look after patients during the Covid crisis.
He told the meeting: “The figures we are seeing in this annual report are reflective of the best efforts from the middle of a pandemic.
“I can’t underestimate actually being on the frontline how difficult it has been at times trying to address even the emergency stuff.
“It has thrown challenges at us we never thought we would face and the NHS has stood up and faced those challenges.
“We have, while trying to meet these targets, set up a vaccination scheme which has delivered remarkable results in Blackpool.”
Councillors said they appreciated the tough situation brought about by Covid but said the focus had to be on restoring services.
Committee chairman Coun Adrian Hutton said: “We appreciate what has been done but we need to get on an even keel so people know they are being looked at and will be called in for treatment as soon as possible.”
The report said work was focused on reducing the number of long waiting patients with priority given to those most in need of treatment.
Measures include “continued emphasis on the timely discharge of patients to maximise all available bed stock” in hospitals as well as using private hospital provision.
GPs can contact hospital consultants for advice prior to making a referral, follow up appointments are being managed more efficiently, and telephone or video consultations are being used.
* Thanks for reading. If you value what we do and are able to support us, a digital subscription is just £1 for your first month. Try us today by clicking here