University Hospitals of North Midlands (UHNM) Trust is still dealing with backlogs following the Covid-19 pandemic – with hundreds of patients waiting at least 18 months for elective treatment.
A national target of eliminating 78-week (18 month) waits for planned care by the end of March was not met, UHNM board members heard at their May meeting. At the end of April there were 583 78-week wait breaches and 50 104 (two year) breaches.
The trust, which runs Royal Stoke and Stafford’s County Hospital, is now receiving additional support from NHS England, including weekly meetings and support in obtaining mutual aid, to tackle the issue. UHNM’s chief executive Tracy Bullock said: “We apologise to those patients who have waited excessively and continue to prioritise patients who have been waiting the longest.
“There are a variety of factors which have impacted on the number of people waiting longer than we would want them to for their elective procedures. There are many initiatives taking place to reduce those waits such as use of the independent sector, mutual aid from other organisations and in-sourcing addition resource to support our theatres.
“We have opened Staffordshire Treatment Suite at County Hospital, Stafford and we will have a new additional modular theatre open at County in June. Along with productivity improvements these will all assist in reducing waits for patients.”
Staffordshire Treatment Suite provides theatre space and recovery bays for patients who only require day care. It has been funded as part of NHS England and Improvement’s Elective Recovery Plan which will allow more patients to be operated on each month.
Helen Ashley, UHNM’s director of strategy, said: “We are extremely pleased to be able to make some fantastic enhancements to the surgical facilities that we provide for patients at County Hospital. The teams are working hard to bring plans to life and this is the first step to developing County as a hub for low complexity elective procedures.”
Theatre Matron Andrew Cole said: “It’s a momentous day and a great development for County Hospital. A huge amount of work has gone into this from the theatres team. From staffing it, equipping it and to setting processes in place to make sure it is safe for the patient. It is all credit to the theatre team for getting us to this position.”
The first patient to be treated in the new suite was Stafford resident Eddie Chambers, 73, who said the facilities were “great”. He added: “It’s a really good addition to the hospital and I felt comfortable during my procedure – thank you to everyone for looking after me.”
Fellow Stafford resident Joe Navarro, 71, from Stafford, who was in for a cheek biopsy said: “I feel great that I am here today, the facilities are magic. Everyone is very helpful to me and I think it’s a great facility for the hospital.”