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"Underwhelming” response to hospital waiting lists questions may prompt further action

Thursday 22 December 2022

"Underwhelming” response to hospital waiting lists questions may prompt further action

Thursday 22 December 2022

Fears that there is “no plan” and “no target” to reduce hospital waiting lists could prompt action from deputies.

Former Health & Social Care member Deputy Rob Prow posed a series of questions to the current committee about the issue.

He said he was underwhelmed with the responses.

Deputy Prow stressed that he fully supports the HSC President, Deputy Al Brouard, and said that the committee’s mandate was incredibly difficult.

“I am meeting with a few deputies in the New Year who wish to support HSC and who are similarly concerned, in order to consider how these issues can be followed up,” said Deputy Prow.

In May it was reported that the surgical waiting list exceeded 2,300 patients.

HSC has £7.8m available for a four year action plan to reduce backlogs and waiting times. 

Responding to questions about what was being done with the money and what the targets were to reduce the list in 2022, 23, 24 and 25, Deputy Brouard highlighted two initiatives - the new de Havilland Ward and extending the hours of the Day Patient Unit. He said it was “difficult to define a specific target for patient numbers on an annual basis with any degree of certainty”.

mark leadbeater de havilland ward hsc waiting lists

Pictured: The opening of de Havilland Ward, a new nine-bed elective orthopaedic unit, in October. 

Deputy Prow said the initiatives were very welcome, but the response failed to fully address or outline a plan to reduce the concerning level of backlogs.

“I believe most islanders understand the difficulties outlined in the responses but really want to understand what more can and will be done, especially where Government Work Plan funding is available,” said Deputy Prow.

“However, this response seems to indicate there is in fact no plan and no target set to accomplish a reduction, despite HSC’s £7.8m GWP funding, aimed at alleviating the situation. The answer seems to ignore the question as to what the backlog reduction policy might be for 2023, 2024 and 2025. Apart from pointing out that the problems will be exacerbated by new patients, there appears to be no ambition or drive to get to grips with the backlog. I feel that this surely cannot be the case?”

He added that the response failed to detail what was tangibly being done with regard to developing a response in partnership with the Medical Specialist Group or other commissioned services, apart from saying that they are “working closely”.

In his response to Deputy Prow’s questions, Deputy Brouard said that action was being undertaken “in a number of areas”.

“For example, steps to reduce the orthopaedic waiting list, using some of the funding available in the Government Work Plan, has facilitated a new nine-bed elective orthopaedic unit at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital (the ‘de Havilland’ Ward). The investment made to ring fence beds for this specific purpose has helped to reduce the number of postponements. The opening hours of the Day Patient Unit have also been extended so that more surgeries can be undertaken as day cases. Steps have been taken to reduce the waiting time for MRI scans.”

He said it was difficult to define a specific target for patient numbers on an annual basis with any degree of certainty.

“This is because the waiting list is affected by the number of new patients referred for surgery; the complexity and nature of their condition/s; whether the treatment they require is urgent; whether care can be provided on-Island or needs to be provided off-Island; and the availability of any external provider.”

He added that HSC, working closely with the MSG and other commissioned providers, is doing what it can to meet the needs of those on waiting lists.


Pictured: Health and Social Care says it is working closely with the MSG on waiting list demands.

“This is of course affected by wider contextual issues, such as recruitment challenges in health and social care, which are mirrored nationally. 

“It is also important to remember that the waiting lists have arisen as a result of the steps taken to manage the Covid-19 pandemic and that the staffing levels in place are not necessarily at a level designed to tackle backlogs, despite the ongoing efforts of all involved to cater for increasing patient need.”


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