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Coronavirus crisis leaves Wolverhampton patients waiting more than a year for hospital treatment

By Richard Guttridge | Wolverhampton | Coronavirus | Published:

The coronavirus crisis has resulted in dozens of people waiting more than a year for treatment at a Midland hospital.

New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton

Latest figures show 166 people have been waiting more than 52 weeks for treatment at the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, which runs New Cross Hospital, in a clear indication the pandemic is playing havoc with NHS waiting times.

In March no patients were waiting more than a year, the national benchmark that no NHS trust should breach in normal times. All non-urgent surgery was suspended at the height of the pandemic to allow hospitals to focus on Covid-19 patients, meaning hospitals will have to work through the backlog.

A new trust board report said: “166 patients are reported as waiting 52-plus weeks at month end, this is due to cancelled inpatient/outpatient activity due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Of the patients who are currently over 52 weeks, 82 per cent of these are waiting for an inpatient/day case procedure, the further 18 per cent are waiting for diagnostic tests.”

The report said “regrettably but inevitably” 52-week breaches had surged and that it was “a target that is now being widely breached across the country”.

The figures illustrate that even if the worst of the pandemic is over and there is no second spike hospitals face a lengthy challenge before things will return to normal.

Hospital attendance levels are gradually climbing after numbers fell off a cliff during lockdown over concerns about catching coronavirus.

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Numbers attending A&E are now at around 80 per cent pre-pandemic levels.

Chief operating officer Gwen Nuttall revealed that during April 305 patients “deferred themselves or placed themselves ‘on hold’ because of shielding or not wishing to attend the hospital”.

She also said “a lot” of patients were not willing to socially isolate for two weeks prior to surgery, which was adding pressure on the trust in its efforts to tackle the backlog.

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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