More patients at Sheffield Children's Trust waiting 'too long' for medical tests

More patients at Sheffield Children's Trust had been waiting more than six weeks for medical tests in April, figures show.

Friday, 18th June 2021, 3:15 pm
Updated Friday, 18th June 2021, 3:15 pm

The trust is still facing a backlog, with the number of patients waiting too long for diagnostic appointments up from the same point last year.

NHS trusts report waiting times for 15 key tests at the end of each month, which are used to diagnose a wide range of diseases and conditions.

According to NHS rules, after someone is referred for one of these tests, they should have it completed within six weeks.

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But NHS Digital data shows 405 people had been waiting longer than this at Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust at the end of April.

This was a rise of 8% from the 374 patients who had been waiting six weeks or more in March, and in line with the number of patients who had experienced such delays at the same time last year.

Across England, 310,800 patients had been waiting six weeks or more for tests at the end of April – a 34% decrease compared to 468,900 a year earlier.

Health think tank the Nuffield Trust said NHS staff are continuing to work under pressure to make a dent in the "troubling backlog" of tests nationally.

Sarah Scobie, the trust's deputy director of research, said urgent non-coronavirus demand is growing rapidly amid the easing of restrictions in England, but added hospitals could see another rise in Covid admissions as new infections surge.

She added: “Rising cases and early signs of more hospitalisations in Delta variant hotspots are a real concern.

"If Covid-19 demand rises alongside growing non-coronavirus need, the NHS will be forced again to do more with less given the reduction in bed numbers due to social distancing and ongoing staff exhaustion and shortages."

The figures also show that 203 Sheffield Children's Trust patients had been waiting 13 weeks or more for medical tests at the end of April – up from 184 in March, and well above six in April.

Overall, a total of 1,210 patients were waiting for key diagnostic tests at the end of April.

NHS England said operations and other routine care were ahead of ambitions nationally.

A spokesman said waiting times for diagnostic tests also fell to a median average of 2.7 weeks in April – down from a peak of 8.6 in May last year.