Tens of thousands of patients on county's hospital waiting lists as backlog grows

The number of patients on waiting lists for routine treatment at Shropshire's two major hospitals rose to more than 34,000 in August, a new report shows.

Royal Shrewsbury Hospital
Royal Shrewsbury Hospital

It came as the trust running Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital in Telford faced an increase in Covid patients and high demands for emergency and urgent care.

The number of patients waiting for planned operations and procedures has jumped by more than 540 to 34,282 since June, when the figure stood at 33,739.

In a new report, Nigel Lee, chief operating officer at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, says the number of Covid patients being looked after at RSH and PRH in August averaged between 30 and 35, with three to seven in critical care.

The trust also reported 69 patients facing trolley waits of more than 12 hours at Shropshire's A&Es during August, when there were also 686 occasions of ambulances waiting more than an hour to handover patients.

Mr Lee said urgent care pressures had "dominated" the trust over the month.

In the report, he said: "The trust has worked closely with the West Midlands Ambulance Service to seek options to support more timely offload; in addition WMAS have cohorted patients (i.e. one crew taking responsibility for more than one patient), and this has been inside the emergency department.

"Patients have therefore been in a more comfortable environment, but have still been recorded as a delay.

"Emergency department clinicians regularly review the patients waiting, and also prioritise with ambulance crews in order that clinically urgent patients are seen more swiftly."

He says the trust is continuing to clinically prioritise patients waiting for planned operations.

The demand on urgent care meant an area used for orthopaedic elective surgery remained "stepped down" at Telford, and the trust is working with Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital.

SaTH's chief executive, Louise Barnett, also says in the report: "During August, our operational challenges have intensified with high levels of attendances and acuity in our emergency departments, delays to discharge for medically fit patients, referrals for cancer services returning to pre-pandemic levels and longer waiting times for many of our patients waiting for out-patient consultations, diagnostic tests and elective surgery.

"We are continuing to work as part of the whole system to address the unscheduled care pressures and within SaTH are moving forward with the capital development of our emergency department in Shrewsbury so as to create a larger treatment area for our patients."

The trust has also installed an additional CT and MRI scanner.

Ms Barnett added: Our recovery of elective capacity has been affected by both the unscheduled and Covid-19 pressures combined with absences in our own staff.

"It is positive to see the number of new doctors taking up post during the month and the international recruitment recommencing."

The waiting list backlogs came about as a result of the pandemic, as staff had to be redeployed to help battle coronavirus on the frontline.

The trust's board will meet online on Thursday to discuss the report.

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