How coronavirus hit Hartlepool hospital appointments

Disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic led to 37,000 fewer outpatient appointments at Hartlepool’s hospital Trust last year, new figures show.

By Tom Patterson
Friday, 1st October 2021, 5:26 pm
The University Hospital of Hartlepool. Picture by FRANK REID
The University Hospital of Hartlepool. Picture by FRANK REID

NHS Digital data shows North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust still managed to deliver 221,920 appointments in the year to March – 37,060 fewer (14%) on the previous year, when 258,980 were scheduled.

The figures also show that around 93% of the appointments booked went ahead at the Trust – which runs The University Hospital of Hartlepool – with the remainder either not attended or cancelled by the patient.

Nationally outpatient appointments fell by 18% to 101.9 million.

Sarah Scobie, deputy director of research at the Nuffield Trust, said the number of outpatient appointments partially recovered in the summer, but ongoing infection control measures meant the NHS was still struggling to see as many patients as it did pre-pandemic.

She said: "In response to the cancellation of other services and fewer referrals into the health system from GPs, the NHS managed to shift many outpatient appointments to remote consultations to ensure that those patients most in need could be seen while protecting them from the continuing risks of Covid-19.

"The knock-on effect is that more people have been left waiting longer for appointments to diagnose and treat illnesses.”

She added that waiting lists – already at 4.5 million patients before the pandemic – could grow “significantly further” if cancellations are made this winter.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “The pandemic has put enormous pressures on the NHS, but we are committed to ensuring people get the treatment they need.”