Hospital too popular for its own good
A Norfolk hospital will be more than £2m over budget this year because patients are choosing to be treated there, health chiefs have revealed. Patients in Waveney and Yarmouth are increasingly choosing treatment at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital rather than at the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston.
A Norfolk hospital will be more than £2m over budget this year because patients are choosing to be treated there, health chiefs have revealed.
Patients in Waveney and Yarmouth are increasingly choosing treatment at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital rather than at the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston.
And this increase in activity means that while the James Paget is due to underspend by about £1.05m this year, the N&N will be about £2.1m over budget.
Yarmouth and Waveney Primary Care Trust (PCT) introduced its patient choice system last year which allows everybody to select the hospital where they want to be treated and most people living in the area can select between hospitals in Norwich, Gorleston, Bury, Ipswich and Cambridge.
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Mike Stonard, PCT chief executive, said that although conditions and facilities have improved greatly, public perception of long waiting lists at the James Paget needs to be addressed.
He said: “A lot of the perception is created by the increasing number of people who are accessing non-consultant services, such as speech therapy, podiatry and orthodontists, and waiting a long time. These services do not come into our 18 week waiting target and so people can be waiting an unacceptably long time.”
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He told the PCT's board at a meeting yesterday that the money being saved could be used to extend the 18 week target to these non-consultant services to improve the hospital's image.
Chairman Bernard Williamson said: “We need to see the 18 weeks as a minimum standard across the board rather than as a target. We have some services which still have long, long waiting lists which we need to work on cutting.”
John Plaskett, one of the PCT's non-executive directors, said that while cutting waiting times for non-consultant services is a good idea, the number of people choosing the N&N could mean that it will struggle to meet its own 18 week waiting time goals.
James Elliott, director of commissioning and planning, said that he is “reasonably reassured” that the N&N will meet its targets this year, but that there are particular pressures in some areas, including orthopaedics.
Mr Stonard said the PCT is working closely with the James Paget to improve its public perception and to redress the financial balance between the two hospitals.