Patients Now Waiting Over a Year for Surgery at the West Mid

Elective operations delayed after staff redeployed to deal with Covid

Entrance to West Middlesex Hospital. Picture: CW+ Charity

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The number of patients waiting for elective surgery for over a year at the West Middlesex University Hospital has ballooned since the beginning the pandemic and looks set to rise further if no action is taken.

London hospitals are all facing the dilemma of how to reduce the huge patient waiting lists that have accumulated during the pandemic and the Chelsea & Westminster NHS Foundation Trust which runs the West Mid has seen the number of patients waiting over a year for routine “elective” operations hit “over 1,000”.

In March 2020, before the pandemic began to bear down on the NHS, it had zero patients waiting that long.

During a board meeting on 4 March, the Trust’s deputy chief executive, Robert Hodgekiss, said, “We were one of the few trusts that never had a patient waiting more than 52 weeks for treatment.

“Right here, right now, we’ve got over 1,000 patients and if we do nothing we’re forecasting a trajectory that that number will be over 2,000 by the end of July.”

The figures include patients at the two hospitals that are run by the Trust, Chelsea & Westminster Hospital and the West Mid in Isleworth.

A Trust report showed that by the end of January, across the two sites there were 769 patients waiting 52 weeks for routine treatments such as hip or knee surgery. At the end of November the figure was 533 patients.

The board heard that hospital staff are “chomping at the bit” to get back to normal after the second wave of Covid, which saw staff redeployed to take on “300 per cent” of the hospitals’ normal critical care capacity.

There are also concerns that many staff are exhausted from working long shifts for days and weeks on end.

Mr Hodgkiss said, “We have a number of people really chomping at the bit to get started.

“They want to crack on. We’ve got to do that in a way that balances rest and recovery because that’s about the workforce not just the patient list.”

He added, “We will have increased annual leave being requested which will limit our ability to get back to previous level of pre-Covid activity and we will have to be very mindful of that.

“We’re trying to take a pragmatic view in terms of the next couple of months as to how much activity expect our staff to cope with.”

Owen Sheppard - Local Democracy Reporter


March 10, 2021