Number of patients waiting for treatment in Suffolk and Essex reaches record high

Ipswich Hospital/Colchester Hospital/West Suffolk Hospital. Picture: Archant

Ipswich Hospital/Colchester Hospital/West Suffolk Hospital. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

The number of people waiting to receive hospital treatment across Suffolk and Essex has hit a record high as the NHS continues to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, latest figures show. 

There were over 88,000 people in total waiting to receive treatment from West Suffolk Foundation Trust (WSFT) and East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) as of November last year, with waiting lists hitting record levels at both trusts. 

A total of 63,916 were waiting for treatment from ESNEFT, while 24,184 were waiting at WSFT.

 

Within those figures, more than 4,000 people have been waiting for treatment for more than a year.

ESNEFT, which manages Ipswich, Colchester and Felixstowe hospitals, had 1,847 people waiting for treatment for 52 weeks or more, while WSFT had 2,331. Both of these figures have decreased significantly since March of 2021, when both trusts hit record numbers.  

However, compared with waiting times pre-pandemic, they remain high. 

In February 2020, only 17 people had been waiting for this length of time across both trusts. 

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In November, ESNEFT was managing to treat 67.7% of people within the 18-week target, while WSFT managed 65.1%. These numbers are improved from July 2020, but still have some way to go before they return to pre-pandemic levels. 

Craig Black, chief executive of WSFT, said the increased waiting times are due to Covid. 

He said: “WSFT staff are doing everything they can to treat patients as quickly and safely as possible. 

“However, the effects of the pandemic mean that waiting lists have unfortunately increased. We never want our patients to wait any longer than absolutely necessary and we are sorry to every patient who is experiencing a delay. 

“We continue to work really hard to increase our capacity and are prioritising patients based on clinical need in line with national guidelines.” 

Neil Moloney, ESNEFT’s acting chief executive, said: “Our hardworking teams have been doing absolutely everything they can to tackle our waiting lists and treat patients in the communities we serve as quickly and safely as possible.” 

ESNEFT was one of 12 NHS Trusts which took part in a national accelerator programme to reduce the length of time patients were waiting for elective surgeries. Although this came to an end in November, they said they had a number of initiatives in place to continue this aim. 

ESNEFT also said that the 1,847 patients who had been waiting for more than 52 weeks for treatment represented 2.89% of patients on the Trust’s waiting lists overall, which is lower than the national November average of 5.12%.