BHRUT has record waiting times for routine treatment and worst track record for cancer waits across London
- Credit: Adriana Elgueta
The number of patients waiting more than 18 weeks for routine treatment at the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust (BHRUT) soared to a record high in June, new figures reveal.
The trust also had the worst track record for cancer waiting times across London, with just 45 per cent of patients being treated within 62 days.
The NHS goal for cancer treatment is to have 85pc treated within 62 days, but the last time BHRUT hit that goal was well before the pandemic hit, in August 2019.
In comparison Barts NHS Trust, which had the same number of cancer patients in June, treated 89pc within 62 days.
According to NHS rules, patients referred for non-urgent consultant-led elective care should start treatment within 18 weeks.
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But NHS data shows 22,110 patients on the waiting list for elective operations or treatment at BHRUT at the end of June had been waiting longer.
That was 52per cent of those on the list, up from just 19pc the previous June and the highest rate for the month since 2011, the earliest year for which data was available.
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Of those who were delayed, 934 had been waiting more than a year.
NHS trusts are normally expected to make sure no more than 8pc of patients are left waiting beyond the 18-week maximum target.
Linda Porter, 71, of Hainault, found out she had an arterial fibulation and tried to get an appointment at Queen’s and King George hospitals and was told they aren’t taking non-urgent patients as they’re dealing with the backlog.
She tried six other hospitals and was told the wait would be between 91 and 138 days.
She told the Recorder: “My doctor said it was quite urgent I need to get this seen and at my age I can’t afford to mess about.
“I can’t imagine Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock’s mum would have to wait that long.”
Linda decided to go to a private hospital so she didn’t delay it and had to pay £200 for the appointment – something she says she cannot afford in the long-run.
She said she understands the needs of treating coronavirus patients first since she had the virus in April, but added: “People need to be seen and things have got to get back to normal.
“Maybe that means seeing patients on the evenings and weekends to catch up but you can’t have people waiting this long.
“To be told there’s no appointments at three different hospitals is a disgrace.”
Shelagh Smith, chief operating officer for BHRUT blamed staff shortages for the poor track record on cancer waiting times and apologised for the long waits for routine treatment and called it “unacceptable”.
She added: “Like all other hospitals, Covid-19 has had an impact on the services we provide. At the height of the pandemic, we made significant and fast changes to our cancer treatments to protect our most vulnerable patients.
“We prioritised, according to clinical need, and we worked closely with private hospitals to reduce the risk of patients capturing the virus.
“As well as responding to Covid, we have suffered staff shortages and have faced particular challenges in our breast and skin cancer specialities where we have increased capacity and recruited additional staff to help deal with the backlogs.
“As a result, we saw record numbers of patients in these areas, in a month, when compared with a year ago.
“We are working with our primary care colleagues to encourage people to come to hospital.”
Gbemi Babalola, senior analyst at think tank 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.
“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.”