Healthwatch Lancashire, the independent organisation that seeks the public’s views on health and social care services, is planning to survey a random selection of people on the waiting list for so-called elective care.
Just over 10,000 people across Lancashire and South Cumbria had been waiting more than a year for pre-planned treatment at the region’s five hospital trusts as of January, according to NHS England figures. A year earlier, prior to the pandemic, that tally stood at just eight.
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Lancashire Healthwatch chief operating officer Sue Stevenson said that the purpose of the opinion-gathering exercise was to “test the mood of the public” about receiving hospital care in the wake of Covid.
“[It] will help us get a feel about where people’s hearts and minds are about coming back in [to hospital] for operations – perhaps if they have been on the list for a very long time,” she told a meeting of Central Lancashire’s clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).
“That additional intelligence will help [inform] some of the communications processes and support networks that might need to be introduced to support people to come back in to address issues that [might have been] identified a very long time ago.
“[We’ll be] asking some questions – without raising expectations [about when patients will be seen] – around what else might help people to still come in and have those operations.
“Individuals who have identified something as a massive [health] priority, say, 12 or 15 months ago, may actually be sitting in a very different place now for all sorts of reasons,” said Ms. Stevenson, adding that the “emotional response” of patients about attending hospital was missing from pandemic recovery planning in the NHS.
Initially, 200 people will be surveyed from the waiting list of each NHS trust in the region.
The CCG meeting also heard that a triage process for long-waiting patients is establishing a clinical priority order in which they are to be seen.
NHS England last week set targets that will see those hospital trusts that meet them entitled to a share of a £1bn recovery fund.
They will receive payments in addition to their core funding if they undertake more than 70 percent of their pre-pandemic elective activity in April, with the threshold rising by five percent each month until reaching 85 percent to cover the period between July and September.
For cancer, trusts will be required, by March 2022, to return to the number of patients that they were seeing within the national 62-day standard to begin treatment in February 2020 – or the national average at that point, if that figure is lower.
This is the number of patients waiting longer than a year for elective treatment, followed by the percentage of patients seen within the normal national standard of 18 weeks, as of January 2021, by hospital trust:
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (Royal Preston Hospital & Chorley and South Ribble Hospital): 5,935 patients > 52 weeks – 55.1% < 18 weeks
University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (Royal Lancaster Infirmary & Furness General Hospital): 1,862 patients > 52 weeks – 59.9 % < 18 weeks
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: 1,468 patients > 52 weeks – 65.4% < 18 weeks
East Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (Royal Blackburn Hospital and Burnley General Hospital): 1,299 patients > 52 weeks – unknown < 18 weeks
Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust (Southport and Formby District General Hospital and Ormskirk District General Hospital): 91 patients > 52 weeks – 82.4% < 18 weeks
Source: NHS England