Thousands wait for healthcare at Hartlepool's main NHS trust following Covid backlog
New figures point to the severity of the healthcare backlog following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Statistics obtained by the Mail under the Freedom of Information Act showed thousands of patients awaiting procedures at Hartlepool’s main NHS trust and more than a thousand people on lists for vital MRI scans.
Fifty-one cancer surgeries had also been postponed since March 2020 although North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said they were “immediately re-appointed”.
Acknowledging the “enormous impact” of Covid-19 the trust also said: "Lifesaving actions would not have been possible if all surgical procedures had still been taking place.”
As of April 25 of this year, 1,273 patients were waiting on MRI scans while 386 were awaiting CT scans.
On the same date, the trust recorded 2,133 people waiting for separate radiological procedures and 856 waiting for endoscopies.
The trust also said there were “no patients currently waiting for a first two-week rule outpatient appointment” at this point and that, as of March 31, there were 28 newly-diagnosed cancer patients waiting for treatment.
“Like every NHS Trust in the UK, Covid-19 has had an enormous impact on our services,” a spokesperson said.
“To ensure the safety of patients and staff, we had to make the difficult decision to cancel some operations.
"As the number of Covid-19 cases increased and the wards filled up with seriously ill patients, we adapted operating theatres to treat patients.
"These lifesaving actions would not have been possible if all surgical procedures had still been taking place.
“We aimed to deliver as many vital and urgent services as was safe, including ensuring newly diagnosed cancer patients began their treatment within two weeks of diagnosis.”
The spokesperson added: “At the University Hospital of Hartlepool we launched the Rowan Suite during 2020, bringing low risk births back to the town.
“As we hopefully turn the corner out of the pandemic and into our ‘new normal’, the hard work of reappointing surgical operations, scans and other treatments is already underway.
“One of the best ways the public can help us in clearing this backlog is by accepting and attending all appointments and following all Covid-19 precautions including taking a test if required.
“As ever, we urge anyone who needs our services in an emergency to not hesitate in coming to hospital.”