Temporary move to ease waiting lists

By Ian Dipple Thursday 17 April 2014 Updated: 18/04 08:17

A MOBILE operating theatre could be set up at the Alexandra Hospital in a bid to ease the county’s waiting list crisis.

The temporary measure follows the news it could take until November before Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust clears its backlog of patients waiting for operations, five months later than originally planned.

Hospitals are supposed to ensure 90 per cent of patients are treated within 18 weeks of referral. But as a result of increasing emergency admissions, norovirus and delays moving people out of hospital once they no longer need treatment, only about 85 per cent of patients are being treated within the target time. The number waiting more than 18 weeks has increased by more than 500 per cent from 181 in April 2012 to 1,163 in February this year.

The number of referrals for operations, particularly orthopaedics and ear, nose and throat surgery, is also increasing making it even harder for the Trust to keep up with demand.

As the Standard has previously reported, patients are already being offered operations in two private hospitals within the county while the Trust is also putting on extra theatre sessions at weekends and has recruited more middle-grade doctors and consultants to try and clear the backlog.

Matthew Train, divisional director of operations for surgery, said he was confident the Trust’s performance would start to improve as a result of the measures they had put in place but the mobile operating theatre was another option being considered as it had been used successfully elsewhere in the country.

The Trust had hoped to get the backlog under control by June but at a recent board meeting Chris Tidman, director of resources, said that was unlikely.

“We won’t turn this around by June because a lot of this is not within our control,” he said.

“It’s probably a six to nine month turnaround plan.”

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