BHRUT waiting times 'could be a lot worse', according to consumer group

Queen's Hospital, Romford. Picture: Ken Mears

Queen's Hospital, Romford. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

A consumer group has claimed that waiting times for patients at a hospital trust "could be a lot worse" - despite figures revealing more than 1,200 have had to go more than a year without treatment.

The statistics were published as part of an update into the performance of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), ahead of today's meeting of Havering Council's health overview and scrutiny sub-committee.

They showed that, despite falling from a peak of 1,540 in September, more than 1,200 people in October had still endured more than a 52 week wait for treatment.

NHS targets say that no-one should have to wait as long as a year but a spokesperson for consumer group Healthwatch Havering said delays were inevitable in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

They added: "It is a major concern that treatment delays continue but the pressures on the trust are such that they could be a lot worse.

"From our perspective, the important issue is to be certain that BHRUT is doing what it can to keep services going while ensuring that as many patients with severe Covid-19 infections as possible survive.

"We have seen nothing to suggest that BHRUT is not doing as much as it can."

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The figures also revealed improvement in referral to treatment times for cancer patients at the trust, which runs Queen's Hospital in Romford and King George Hospital in Goodmayes.

The trust had treated more than 71pc of cancer patients within 62 days in October, up from 58pc in September and much higher than the lowest level at around 40pc in May.

But these still fall below the national 85pc target and Cllr Jason Frost, Havering Council's cabinet member for health, said: "It is always a matter of concern when cancer patients are forced to wait such a long time for their treatment."

But he said he was confident the 62 day cancer performance would continue to improve in the next couple of months.

Magda Smith, BHRUT's chief medical officer, said: “The prevalence of Covid-19 in the three boroughs we serve has had a huge impact on our hospitals and we are working very hard to care for all of our patients safely.

“At the height of the pandemic we made significant changes to our cancer treatments to protect our most vulnerable patients."

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