Pandemic leaves hundreds waiting for treatment at Hartlepool's hospitals

More than 200 people waited more than a year to be admitted for hospital treatment at the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust because of the pandemic, new figures show.

Friday, 8th October 2021, 11:20 am
Updated Friday, 8th October 2021, 2:10 pm
The University Hospital of Hartlepool

NHS Digital statistics show around 250 patients needing non-emergency care at the trust had waited more than 12 months to be checked into hospital in the year to March following the initial decision to admit them.

Of those, 115 waited more than 18 months.

The trust says staff are working hard to clear the backlog and restore as many routine services as possible.

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A trust spokesman said: “Thanks to the hard work and commitment of all of our colleagues, only 2.6% of our patients have waited more than one year for treatment.

"These delays have been caused by a combination of the continuing impact of COVID-19 and other factors, prioritising clinical need, patient choice to delay procedures or patients requiring further support if they are not well enough for treatment.

“Throughout the pandemic we have kept our emergency provision at full strength, maintained our vital cancer services, and continued to treat elective patients based on clinical urgency.”

He added: “Our staff, who are themselves still feeling the effects of the 18-month battle against COVID-19, are working non-stop to tackle any backlog and the Trust remains proud of their continuous efforts to maintain all services.”

Nationally, more than 95,000 patients admitted for non-urgent treatment in 2020-21 had been waiting for more than a year – up from around 42,000 the year before.

The Patients Association charity said patients should be given "honest timescales" for treatment and advice.

Chief executive Rachel Power said: "The NHS must understand the impact on patients when planned care is cancelled or when you've no clear idea of when you may get care, and act in response.

"This means clear communication to patients and giving clear expectations about what might happen next."

A spokeswoman for the NHS said caring for 450,000 Covid-19 patients in hospital had had an inevitable impact on the health service's ability to deliver care for less urgent conditions.

She said: “The NHS has laid out its plan for the next six months, which includes £1.5bn of funding to support the continued recovery of waiting lists and cancer services.”

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