20,000 people await routine treatment at Dorst County Hospital


Almost 20,000 patients were awaiting routine treatment at Dorset County Hospital in September, figures show.

The King’s Fund, a health care think tank, said NHS services were already in crisis and warned new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak the situation could get worse if budgets were cut.

Figures from NHS England show 19,146 patients were awaiting non-emergency elective operations or treatment at Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust at the end of September – up from 18,510 in August and 19,107 in September 2021.

Of these, 1,239 (6%) had been waiting for over a year.

The median wait time from referral to an NHS Trust to treatment at Dorset County Hospital was 15 weeks at the end of September, down from 14 weeks in August.

Nationally, 7.1 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of September – a new record.

Siva Anandaciva, chief analyst at the King’s Fund, said the government’s budget statement, due on November 17, will have a “profound impact on the quality and accessibility of health and care services”.

“If NHS budgets continue to be eroded by inflation, it is difficult to see how the government’s ambitious goals to reduce hospital waiting lists can be achieved,” Mr Anandaciva added.

“History has shown us that attempts to protect core NHS budgets at the expense of greater spending on social care, disease prevention and capital investment are short-sighted and can lead to greater pressure on downstream services”.

Separate figures show that 1.6million patients in England were waiting for a key diagnostic test in September – an increase from 1.5million in August.

At Dorset County Hospital, 5,871 patients were awaiting one of 13 standard tests, such as an MRI, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy at the time.

Among them, 2,054 (35%) had been waiting for at least six weeks.

Dr Tim Cooksley, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said the figures show “standards are at an unacceptable level” which will deteriorate over the winter and the pressure to provide care is at an unsustainable level.

Further figures from NHS England show that of 84 patients referred urgently by their GP who were treated at Dorset County Hospital in September, 57 were receiving cancer treatment within two months of their referral.

A month earlier – when 71 patients had been referred – 44 had been treated within 62 days.

As of September 2021, 66 patients have been treated during this period, out of 92 who have been referred.

NHS Medical Director Professor Sir Stephen Powis said: “There is no doubt that October has been a difficult month for staff, who are now dealing with a triple outbreak of Covid, flu and a record strain on emergency services with more people attending A&E or needing the most urgent ambulance legend than any other October.

He said pressure on emergency services remained high due to a shortage of hospital beds, but “staff kept their foot on the accelerator to reduce the backlog”.

“We’ve always said the overall waiting list will grow as more patients come in, and, with pressures on staff expected to increase over the winter months, the NHS has a plan – including a new chutes service, 24/7 war rooms and extra beds and call handlers,” he said.

Anita Thomas, Chief Operating Officer of Dorset County Hospital, said: “We are committed to reducing patient waiting times and our staff are working hard to achieve this. It is through their continued efforts that we are beginning to see improvements in a number of areas. For example, we are now systematically reducing the number of patients who wait more than a year and a half for treatment, as well as those who wait more than a year. We also meet the 31-day standard for treating patients diagnosed with cancer. We are committed to lowering expectations even further and prioritizing those who need us most urgently.

“Despite some improvement, we are not complacent and continue to find ways to improve patient wait times and reduce the backlog. The multi-agency approach with our partners at South Walks House Outpatient Assessment Center has proven extremely successful, with clinics, non-surgical interventions and additional support to help people stay healthy while waiting for a surgical intervention. We have just received over £13 million in funding to help transform the temporary center into a more permanent facility and expand the clinical services offered at South Walks House. This will increase the number of services available on this site from next summer, which will help us reduce waiting times even further. »


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