West Sussex County Times
Hospitals pulling out all the stops to cope with backlogs
The pandemic has led to longer waits but routine treatments have now resumed
Staff at East Surrey Hospital have ‘pulled out all the stops’ to provide surgery for patients during the coronavirus pandemic.
Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust which runs the hospital - caring for patients from Horsham and Crawley as well as Surrey - says it is committed to ensuring it provides the ‘best care.’
All hospitals throughout the country had to postpone some operations at the height of the pandemic but all surgical specialties at East Surrey Hospital have now resumed.
Figures from the Nuffield TrustshowthatinFebruarythe Surrey and Sussex Healthcare
Trust had 859 patients listed for elective operations who had been waiting a year or more for treatment - a huge increase from just four the previous year.
But overall, the figures show that there were 24,699 people on the trust’s waiting list at the end of February - a decrease of 1,203 on the same time last year.
Trust chief executive Michael Wilson said: “During the unprecedented times that we have faced, like all hospitals we had to postpone some planned procedures.
“Our staff pulled out all the stops to continue providing surgery for the most timecritical cases during the height of the pandemic, and we prioritise patients on the basis of clinical need.
“All our surgical specialties have resumed operating.
“We work hard to meet the national standard for all patients we treat and are committed to ensuring that we deliver the best care to our patients.”
Staff at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath are now restoring routine treatments for patients following the coronavirus crisis.
A record number of patients have been waiting a year or more for routine treatment at the Princess Royal and at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, according to figures from the Nuffield Trust.
Both hospitals are operated by the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS
Trust. NHS rules state that patients referred for nonurgent consultant-led elective care should start treatment within 18 weeks.
But NHS statistics show 4,356 patients listed for elective operations or treatment at the Haywards Heath and Brighton hospitals at the end of February had been waiting for at least a year - compared with just 41 the previous year.
They also show that, overall, 38,567 people were waiting to start hospital treatment at both hospitals at the end of February – an increase of 187 on February 2020.
Trust chief operating officer Ben Stevens said: “The pandemic has led to higher waiting times across the country. We understand long waits are distressing for patients and have been prioritising those with the most urgent clinical needs first.
“We are in the process of restoring the elective programme by maximising the use of the available capacity within our hospitals and by working with independent sector providers where appropriate.”
The Nuffield Trust says the record size of the NHS waiting list across England shows the health service has been set back years by the coronavirus pandemic and now faces a ‘major backlog’.
And, it said, the strain of the backlog on patients should not be underestimated, but added it is no surprise given the intense pressure of Covid-19 hospitalisations.
We are committed to ensuring that we deliver the best care to our patients MICHAEL WILSON Chief executive at Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust