Thousands of patients left waiting months for treatment at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals
Thousands of patients left waiting months for treatment at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals were still in limbo at the end of October, the latest figures reveal.
The Patients Association says long waits can be unbelievably stressful, and blames a "familiar cocktail" of underfunding, poor planning and higher demand for increased waiting times.
According to NHS rules, anyone referred by their doctor for non-urgent consultant-led care should start treatment within 18 weeks.
But NHS England statistics show that 4,151 patients due to be treated at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust had been waiting longer than that at the end of October – 13% of those on the waiting list.
It means the trust is falling short of the NHS’s target for the 18-week threshold to be met in at least 92% of cases.
Of those not seen in time, 258 had waited more than 36 weeks , while one had still not started treatment after a year.
The figures quoted only cover those still waiting to start treatment, and do not account for how long patients who started treatment waited.
Across England, 85% of patients waiting to start treatment at the end of October had been doing so for 18 weeks or fewer – below the target.
Lucy Watson, chairwoman of the Patients Association, said that longer waits for patients were "unacceptable".
She added: "The rising trend in waiting times is very clearly attributable to the familiar cocktail of sustained NHS underfunding, poor planning and stewarding of the NHS workforce, and rising levels of patient need linked to demographic change.”
Professor Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said that while targets can drive improvement, they would be hard to achieve without a "much-needed injection" of staff.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said there are 19,300 more doctors on wards than in 2010.
She added that the government is funding an extra 1,500 university places for future doctors alongside "ambitious" plans to increase the NHS workforce, backed by increased funding worth £33.9 billion extra a year by 2023-24.
Rebecca Joyce, Chief Operating Officer at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals, said: “The trust has developed plans which focus on increasing outpatient, diagnostic and theatre capacity to help improve waiting times for our patients. These plans include the provision of additional clinics and operating lists, supported by the recent recruitment of new staff in a number of specialties.
“The trust is also working with local GP practices and its partner organisations across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw to redesign patient pathways to improve care and reduce waiting times for patients.
“Our teams are working tirelessly to ensure that care is provided to our patients in a safe and timely manner and to improve our performance against the 92% standard of patients treated within 18 weeks following GP referral by March 2020.”