Soaring numbers of patients across East Kent are having to wait more than a year for surgery and more than 18 weeks for consultant-led, routine hospital care because Covid has disrupted hospital waiting lists so badly, Trust data reveals.
The Trust serves a population of 720,500 approxiametely.
The big rise in people facing delays of at least 52 weeks for an operation/surgey stood at 5 in Nov 2019 and 2,215 by the end of Oct 2020, according to the latest data available.
The genesis of the issue began in March, when restrictions were placed on all acute Trusts for using surgery theatres during Wave 1 of the Covid- 19 pandemic. This has led to the backlog of patients who are now tipping into 52 weeks wait.
One can see the amount of surgery, be it day, elective or non elective, fell sharply between March and April, as the first wave of covid-19 hit the Trusts hospitals. However, from April onwards the amount of surgery in Trust theatres has steadily increased. By the end of Nov 2020, four out of every five operations went ahead (82%).
It’s clear theatre use at the Trust has been reduced by 18% due to Covid-19. This is due to the continued infection control measures between cases for PPE compliance and cleaning. This is so necessary given we have a more transmissable virus in our midsts.
The backlog of patients waiting 18 weeks for a referral for treatment for consultant-led, routine hospital care has grown 86% between Nov 2019 and Oct 2020.
The rise of course has coincided with wave one of covid-19 sweeping through East Kent, from March 2020 onwards. The backlog reached its peak in July, before falling back to 16,180 at the end of Oct 2020.
Between Mar & Nov, 144,709 fewer patients were referred for 18 week referral consultant-led, routine hospital care. This is 20% of patients the Trust serves (720,500).
Each one of these patients waiting for referral amount to more than the population of Thanet (141,900 Mid 2019).
These waiting time figures drive home the devastating impact Covid has had on wider services offered by the Trust.
Waiting lists for 18 week planned referral treatment were already high when the virus first struck. It has made the situation many times worse through no fault of the Trust.
The impact of Covid-19 on waiting times will be felt for a good number of years to come. Despite the best efforts of staff there simply isn’t the capacity to get through the backlog quickly, so whether we like it or not, we’ll all have to be a bit more patient if waiting for surgery in the Trusts Hospitals in 2021 and beyond.
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