Hospital bosses reassure GPs over plan to tackle waiting times

Hospital bosses have told GPs that waiting times are being tackled department by department.
Hospital bosses have told GPs that waiting times are being tackled department by department.
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Efforts to reduce waiting times at the Royal Preston and Chorley and South Ribble Hospitals are being focused on individual departments, a committee of GPs has been told.

Efforts to reduce waiting times at the Royal Preston and Chorley and South Ribble Hospitals are being focused on individual departments, a committee of GPs has been told.

The area’s Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) requested a meeting with hospital bosses amidst concern about the length of time some patients are waiting for pre-planned treatment.

Last month, the board of the Greater Preston CCG heard that 34 patients had been waiting for over twelve months in May this year. Neurosurgery had the highest number of year-long waits at 18, with a further 225 patients in the department having been on a waiting list for at least 36 weeks.

A report presented to members said: “Capacity and staffing in most specialities are an issue”.

Greater Preston and Chorley and South Ribble CCGs - which are responsible for securing hospital services for their patients - have since held discussions with senior managers at the trust which runs the two hospitals.

In a statement, the CCGs said: “[We] have met with the Director of Operations and Director of Nursing from Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

“Plans are currently in development on a speciality level and will be revealed to the CCGs when finalised.

“In the meanwhile, patient waiting lists are continuing to be dealt with on a daily basis.”

NHS England says patients should begin their treatment within 18 weeks of being referred to hospital by their GP. Trusts are set a target that they must meet the standard for 92 percent of people on their waiting lists.

Figures released last week show that Lancashire Teaching Hospitals treated just over 81 percent of patients within 18 weeks in June. But half of their 33,000-strong waiting list was seen in under eight weeks.

Nationally, just over 87 percent of patients were seen within 18 weeks - and it’s now over two years since the 92 percent standard was met across England.

The target was effectively downgraded last year when NHS bosses admitted that they were not expecting it to be hit until 2020.

Neither has the measure been used to judge whether trusts are eligible for a share from an extra pot of money known as the Sustainability and Transformation Fund. The criteria for payments have instead focused on Accident and Emergency and cancer waiting times, as well as financial performance.