Staff working tirelessly to treat backlog of patients at region's hospitals

Routine blood tests have been cancelled at Ipswich Hospital, Colchester Hospital and West Suffolk Hospital as a result of...

The county's hospitals have been working to deal with waiting lists for treatment - Credit: Archant

Hospitals say they are working as quickly as possible to clear long waiting times for treatment after the coronavirus crisis caused a record high backlog of cases.

Most recent data showed that as of July 2021, 62,851 patients were waiting to start treatment at the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), which runs Colchester and Ipswich hospitals.

Half of patients were waiting less than 10 weeks for treatment but only 70.4% were being seen within the 18-week NHS target. The national operational standard is 92%.

At West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, 23,205 patients are waiting for treatment, with only two-thirds seen within the 18-week timeframe.

In England, 5.6million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of July - the highest number since records began in August 2007.

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Health secretary Sajid Javid warned the number of people on waiting lists will continue to increase before billions of pounds being pumped into the NHS starts to address the problem. 

"The waiting lists will go up before they go down again," he warned. 

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Neill Moloney, deputy chief executive at ESNEFT, said Ipswich and Colchester hospitals had seen a substantial reduction in the number of patients waiting more than 52 weeks. 

“There’s no doubt that elective surgery waiting times have increased locally and nationally because of the NHS Covid-19 pandemic response,” he said.  

“At ESNEFT, we are now fortunate to be part of a national accelerator programme to restart routine care and to tackle the backlog. 

“We have looked at all patients on our elective surgery waiting lists and prioritised them clinically, so that the patients with the most urgent need had their surgery."

A West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said: "Urgent and emergency procedures, including cancer care, have continued and we are doing everything we can to treat patients as quickly as possible. 

"We are also working with our NHS healthcare partners and the independent sector to increase capacity where possible, using the additional funding awarded across Suffolk and north east Essex to tackle waiting lists." 

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