Plan to reduce hospital waits in Sheffield

Kirsten Major
Kirsten Major
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Hospital chiefs in Sheffield are launching an action plan to cut waiting times amid concern over delays for outpatients.

More than 27,000 patients are currently on the waiting list for an outpatient appointment at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, according to the most recent figures.

The statistics show that, at the end of December, 13,107 people had been waiting more than five weeks, compared to 11,560 the previous month - a 13 per cent rise.

The delays meant that, for two months in a row, the trust narrowly missed its target to treat 95 per cent of non-admitted patients within 18 weeks.

On Wednesday the hospitals trust’s board of directors will discuss a report setting out an action plan to see people more quickly.

Kirsten Major, director of strategy and operations, said Sheffield’s waiting times were ‘among the lowest in the NHS’.

But Ms Major added: “For the last few years we have seen an increase in the number of patients choosing to have their treatment with us and this extra demand means we have to look at improving the processes we currently use so that we can treat patients as efficiently and timely as possible.

“Some of the actions we are considering include working with GPs to look at having predominantly electronic referrals, rather than paper, and ensuring certain parts of the process are done within a shorter time period - for example, ensuring a patient’s first appointment takes place within five weeks of receiving the GP referral, to allow us to have more time in the 18 weeks to carry out tests and ultimately complete treatment.

“We will be working with staff and GPs to explore taking proposals forward.”

The report said staff involved in recording waiting times will be retrained, and also warned: “Recent performance, and that expected in coming months, is likely to be below the required levels.”