New figures show impact of Covid on NHS waiting times

Waiting times at Barking Havering Redbridge University Trust hospitals

New figures show the waiting times at all BHRUT hospitals - including the pictured Queen's Hospital in Romford. - Credit: PA

Patient waiting times have surged since the beginning of the pandemic, according to new figures released by the NHS.

Every hospital around the country has been affected, including Romford's Queen's and Goodmayes' King George hospitals.

Both facilities fall under the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), which now has more patients waiting over a year for treatment when compared to March 2020.

As of April, more than 1,930 patients fall into this bracket. The equivalent number for last March was 102.

BHRUT patients are also now facing greater overall waiting lists compared to the numbers recorded in the month the first Covid-19 lockdown was imposed.

In March last year, the overall waiting list stood at 40,827; fast-forward just over a year and there are 48,373 patients waiting.

While not among the worst performers; BHRUT ranks 61st - out of 174 - for patients waiting over a year, and 32nd for overall waiting list length.

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The number of patients seen within the 18-week limit has also decreased. Prior to the pandemic, it was 72.9per cent; by April 2021, this had dropped to 60.8pc.

The trust's chief medical officer, Magda Smith, said: “As with the rest of the NHS, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on our waiting lists, however, getting our patients the care they need is one of our highest priorities, and we have a recovery plan in place.

“Our three main areas where we are seeing larger increases are orthopaedics, gynaecology and general surgery, and we are prioritising these. We’ve developed surgical hubs to allow us to carry out a higher number of less complex cases safely.

"We’re also holding a number of dedicated clinics, redirecting our resources to carry out a large number of appointments over a day, including at weekends.

“We’re working with our partners across the whole of north east London, seeing where we can use our combined capacity to reduce waiting lists.

"We’re also continuing to work with the independent sector, which was how we ensured our cancer patients got the care they needed safely during the peak of the pandemic."

Confirming that the trust is also focused on reducing the numbers waiting over a year for treatment, Ms Smith said patients must be prioritised "in order of clinical need".