Year-long treatment waits hit record highs as pandemic hits health services

The number of patients waiting more than a year for routine treatment at the county’s hospitals has hit record highs.

The number of people waiting for more than 52 weeks for routine treatment has hit record highs.
The number of people waiting for more than 52 weeks for routine treatment has hit record highs.

New figures show there are now 481 patients waiting more than 52 weeks at Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), and 198 at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital near Oswestry.

For both trusts it is the highest figure since records began in 2011, and at the same point last year there were no patients waiting as long.

The figures illustrate the impact of the pandemic on delaying routine treatment, as hospitals have had to reorganise to cope with the influx of Covid patients.

They also come ahead of a rise in Covid cases going into winter – traditionally the most challenging time for the health services.

According to NHS rules, patients referred for non-urgent consultant-led elective care should start treatment within 18 weeks.

Across England, the number of people waiting a year or more hit 111,000, a near ten-fold increase from 1,236 in August 2019 and the highest figure since 2008.

A spokesman for Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Sustainability and Transformation Partnership apologised for the delays and said it would take some time before the county’s hospitals would be able to hit the waiting time targets achieved pre-Covid.

He added that the impact of the pandemic meant that “many patients” would face delays and longer waiting times. “Despite a huge amount of hard work, the impact of Covid-19 has been significant on our services and it will be some time before we have managed to recover our services fully and meet the access targets and waiting times that we achieved pre-Covid-19.

“All system colleagues are working well together to plan for winter and a second Covid-19 peak.

"Waiting list backlogs remain a key challenge but we have plans in place to reduce numbers, while managing increasing demand for our full range of patient care services.

“Our clinicians are working together across primary and secondary care to review waiting lists and support those patients waiting for treatment.”

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