12-month waits for hospital treatment soar by 2,300pc

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: NNUH

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: NNUH

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Coronavirus has left Norfolk hospitals battling to keep up with planned treatment, figures show, with the number of patients waiting more than a year soaring by 2,300pc.

In March, as the coronavirus pandemic began to take hold in the UK, 93 patients had waited more than 12 months for their treatment at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH).

But new figures from NHS England show that figure had risen to 2,286 by July - an increase of 2,358pc.

It compares to 314 waiting at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King’s Lynn, up from 46 in April, and 292 at the James Paget University Hospital (JPUH) in Gorleston, up from four in April.

Professor Erika Denton, NNUH medical director, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on our waiting times for elective procedures. The extra safety and infection control measures we have put in place mean that the volume of planned surgery will not get back to the levels they were before Covid-19 for some time, particularly if the number of coronavirus cases start to rise again as is expected in the coming months.

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“We are prioritising the most urgent cases and doing everything we can to create additional capacity wherever able. We have already put in place seven day working and doing additional work on Saturdays and Sundays.”

She said the number of procedures was increasing, and that the return of shielding staff would increase capacity.

“Our surgical team are making contact with patients on our waiting list to keep them informed of the status of their procedure and to check how they are,” she said.

Erika Denton, medical director at the NNUH. Photo: NNUHErika Denton, medical director at the NNUH. Photo: NNUH

“However, if a patient feels that their condition has deteriorated, we’d urge them to speak to their GP or get in touch with their consultant here at the NNUH.”

The figures show the proportion of patients being seen within the 18-week target window fell from 77pc at the NNUH to 41.1pc from March to July.

It was a trend mirrored at the JPUH and QUEH, where the figures fell from 77.4pc to 47.7pc and 76.7pc to 46.6pc respectively.

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