Almost 60,000 people on waiting lists for hospital treatment in Cambs
- Credit: PA
Nearly 60,000 patients were waiting for routine treatment at Cambridgeshire hospitals in November as waiting lists rocketed to an all-time high, new figures show.
Thousands of people joined waiting lists for non-urgent elective operations or procedures in a single month, according to NHS England figures.
It comes as hospitals are grappling with staff absences and an increase in demand, putting a strain on services.
Some 59,508 people were waiting to start treatment at the North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust (NWAFT) by the end of November 2021. The Trust oversees Hinchingbrooke, Peterborough City and Stamford & Rutland hospitals.
Sixty-two per cent of patients were waiting in 18 weeks – the NHS operational standard is 92 per cent.
Half of these patients were waiting for less than 13 weeks, while 92 out of 100 were seen within a year.
For treatment that required admission to hospital – an inpatient appointment – 1,961 patients started treatment. 19 out of 20 patients had started this treatment in 91 weeks (20 months).
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Meanwhile, for outpatient appointments, 11,628 people had been seen – with 19 out of 20 starting treatment in just over a year at 56 weeks.
It comes as more than 85,000 people in total are currently waiting for hospital or community care in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
The figures, that were released on January 13, come as the Trust revealed they have “recovery plans” in place.
Phil Walmsley, chief operating officer at NWAFT, said: “Due to sustained pressures, waiting times have increased at our Trust and as a result we are implementing recovery plans and working with our local partners to reduce them where we can.
"We have written to all of our patients who were on our waiting lists regarding their procedures and we would like to ensure them that we are working through this backlog as quickly as we can, prioritising those with the most urgent clinical need.
“Members of our community can support the NHS this winter by using NHS 111 for health advice, and by receiving the COVID-19 and flu vaccinations, if eligible.”
Waiting lists are not the only area where the Trust admitted to “struggling” during the festive period.
The number of patients waiting more than 30 minutes to be handed over to A&E staff from an ambulance in the week December 20 to 26 2021 was 37 per cent of 956 arrivals.
The number of patients waiting longer than four hours A&E in November 2021 was 39 per cent of 16,405 attendances.
The Trust is also working alongside the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG on their new patient helpdesk.
Healthwatch Cambridgeshire found that people’s experiences on the waiting list are affected by the uncertainty over how long they will wait as well as managing their health while waiting.
Cancelled procedures are one of the most significant issues reported by patients.
Healthwatch chief executive, Sandie Smith, welcomed the new helpdesk.
“The scale of the care backlog is huge, and people have sometimes been left in limbo, struggling to live with a health problem and the uncertainty of knowing when they will be treated,” she said.
At the start of the New Year, 216 staff were absent from the Trust due to Covid, while a total of 456 staff were off including non-Covid related sickness (seven per cent). Around 6,773 staff work for the NWAFT.
Waiting lists for routine treatments are also at an all-time high nationally, with six million people waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at the end of November, up from 5.98 million the month before.
The new patient helpdesk to support people waiting for appointments in Cambridgeshire is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm on freephone 0800 048 5800.