Hospital chiefs in Sheffield have promised to bring long waits for patients under control from next month – following concern over the number of people waiting over 18 weeks.
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has missed the official target to see 95 per cent of outpatients within 18 weeks for more than six months.
But, according to the most recent figures, the trust narrowly missed the standard in July, seeing just over 94 per cent on time. In total, 12,444 outpatients needed treatment that month, with 11,730 seen within 18 weeks.
If a further 228 patients had been treated within 18 weeks, the hospitals would have hit the 95 per cent mark.
A report to a meeting of the trust’s board of directors tomorrow said a ‘robust action plan’ was in place which was ‘progressing well’.
Measures included a review of patients waiting 10 weeks or more, extra training for staff, and reviewing the leave policy for consultants to cut the risk of cancellations. Senior medics should give ‘as much notice as possible’ – with a minimum of six weeks – when taking leave.
The report said ‘escalation processes’ had been put in place for consultants who did not allow six weeks.
Financial penalties incurred by the trust for missing the 18-week targets would also be passed on ‘directly to departments failing to achieve’.
Cardiac services, neurosurgery, neurology and orthopaedics have been worst affected by long waits.
“Growing numbers of patients and their doctors are choosing Sheffield Teaching Hospitals for their care and this has resulted in a significant increase in referrals,” said the report.
“This has, in turn, made meeting the 18-week timeframes much more challenging. The trust has recognised this and developed a robust action plan which should ensure the standards are met from October.
“The average waiting time for care at the trust is eight weeks. The trust continues to meet all the cancer treatment waiting time standards.”