Preston and Chorley waiting lists fall - but waiting time targets still being missed

National NHS bosses set targets for individual trusts to reduce their waiting lists before March 2019.
National NHS bosses set targets for individual trusts to reduce their waiting lists before March 2019.
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The trust which runs the Royal Preston and Chorley and South Ribble hospitals is over halfway to meeting a waiting list reduction target set for next spring - after just a month.

NHS Improvement told Lancashire Teaching Hospitals (LTH) that it had to shed 3,459 patients from its waiting list by next spring. The figure has already fallen by 1,800 during October.

READ MORE >>> Royal Preston and Chorley and South Ribble hospitals told to cut waiting lists
But Lancashire Teaching Hospitals is still missing overall waiting times targets, including for cancer treatment.

Standards set by national NHS bosses dictate that 84.5 percent of its patients should begin cancer treatment within two months of an urgent GP referral. Currently, the proportion being seen within that timeframe stands at 77 percent .

A board meeting heard that the "very small numbers of patients" involved can cause the percentages to shift dramatically.

“It only takes 5 breaches to drop us from 85 to 80 percent,” Faith Button, Interim Director of Performance, said.

According to papers presented to board members, an increase in demand for surgical procedures and the the loss of a gynaecology consultant are the main reasons for the below par performance.

Additional theatre sessions are being used to get the trust back on track, with staff working extra hours to provide cover. Treatment of benign problems is also being shifted to prioritise malignancy.

Meanwhile, waiting times for all pre-planned operations are also behind target. Just under 80 percent of patients were seen within 18 weeks of being referred by their GP, against a local target of 86.5 percent.

Work to improve the situation could take "several months" to have an impact, with long waits for some outpatients' first appointments, the board heard.

And monitoring continues of anybody who has been waiting over 45 weeks to be seen - with a plan to ensure nobody has been on the trust's waiting list for more than twelve months by the end of this year.