Shropshire Star

Shropshire's NHS clears backlog of people waiting 18 months for treatment

Shropshire's health services have cleared all 18-month waits for treatment in line with national targets.

The county's NHS organisations have cleared their 18-month waiting list backlog.

The Government and NHS England set a goal of clearing all waits of more than 18 months by April – excluding very complex cases or patients who choose to wait longer.

It has been confirmed that all of the county's major health organisations, Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) – which manages both Royal Shrewsbury Hospital (RSH) and Princess Royal Hospital Telford (PRH), the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH), and Shropshire Community Health Trust (Shropcom), had achieved the target.

It represents huge progress, with more than 1,500 patients on the list at its peak.

It comes as a number of other trusts across England have failed to do so.

According to the data, 43 patients had been waiting for treatment at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust for 18 months or more – although the figures suggest none of these were routine waits.

At RJAH there were 75, but they were due to 'complex' reasons, and therefore do not count towards the Government's target.

The Government has however fallen short in its own ambitions, with 41 per cent of the 10,737 cases falling into the category of people choosing to wait or exceptionally complex cases – leaving the remainder as routine waits for treatment.

The waiting list peaked in September 2021, when nearly 250,000 people were waiting 18 months for treatment – including 955 at SaTH, 574 at RJAH, and eight at Shropcom.

Sir Julian Hartley, chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “Trusts have pulled out all the stops to cut by 90 per cent the number of people waiting 78 weeks or more for care – a remarkable achievement against a backdrop of months of strikes, severe staff shortages and a yawning gap between capacity and growing demand.

“Staff and trust leaders deserve credit for continuing to work flat-out to see people as quickly as possible and to improve the flow of patients through the whole health system.

“But there’s a long way to go to get waiting times and lists down across physical and mental services to where patients and the NHS want.”

In total, the figures show 35,841 patients were waiting for treatment at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital at the end of March, with 2,652 waiting for a year or more.

For RJAH there were 15,028, with 1,227 waiting for 12 months or over, and at Shropcom it is 6,639, with 29 waiting over a year.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Cutting waiting lists to ensure people get the care they need more quickly is one of the Government’s five key priorities."

He continued: “Thanks to the hard work and dedication of healthcare staff backed by Government support, the NHS has now cut 18-month waits by more than 91 per cent."

“Today’s significant milestone shows we’re delivering on our Elective Recovery Plan despite NHS strikes and the challenging winter," Mr Barclay added.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting criticised the Government over failing to meet the national target, saying there are "thousands of patients in pain and discomfort for unacceptably long".

“This is just the latest broken promise that shows you can’t trust the Tories with the NHS," he said.

“Ministers blame strikes, as if they are mere bystanders. It was their refusal to speak to nurses and junior doctors that forced them out on strike in the first place," he added.