Health chiefs warn of 'considerable task' to reduce waiting times in Hartlepool due to covid pandemic

Health bosses have warned there is a ‘considerable task ahead’ to reduce treatment waiting times, which have increased due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has caused difficulties across the board for medical professionals.
The pandemic has caused difficulties across the board for medical professionals.

Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which serves Hartlepool, heard how although the area is below the national average for the number of patients waiting over a year to receive treatment, there is still a great deal of work to be done.

The 52-week wait rate for Tees Valley CCG per 100,000 of the population is 288.1 patients, compared to the national rate of 372.11

In the North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust area there are a total of 421 patients facing referral to treatment waiting times of 40+ weeks, with 87 facing 52+ week waits.

Craig Blair, director of commissioning, strategy and delivery at the CCG, told a meeting of the governing body on Wednesday they face ‘continued pressures’ around long waiting times.

He said: “Whilst the numbers are still high, we’re not seeing the growth that we had seen earlier on in the pandemic.

“As the elective programme is starting to come back online we’re starting to consume some of our smoke in terms of each month the numbers being added to the list.

“But there’s still a considerable task ahead for all of our trusts to work through in terms of reducing the ICP (integrated care partnership) level waiting times back to anything like they were pre-Covid.”

It was noted all long waits are reviewed by consultants across all health trusts in the area, and anyone at risk of harm is brought forward, while the importance of communication was also stressed.

Mr Blair added: “What we’ve asked is any interaction that takes place with the patient, there is conversation and clarity provided around the long waits.

“That’s something further that we need to consider as we move through the recovery phrase, setting some new expectations about how long people should wait or expect to wait for treatment.”

Dr Janet Walker, medical director, added it is important it is made clear to patients what to expect in terms of waiting times.

She said: “The GPs are aware of what is happening with their patients that are on the waiting list, to make sure that where possible we can be as open and honest with patients as we need to be.”

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