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Another trust finds missing year-plus waiters

PERFORMANCE: An investigation has been launched by a north London trust after it failed to enter more than 2,000 patients on the waiting list, HSJ has learned.

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Of the Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals Trust patients who had not been entered onto a computer system, 242 have waited more than a year for treatment.

Commissioners now fine trusts for each patient who waits more than a year from referral to treatment. The latest national data showed there were 386 year-plus waiters across England. It is unclear whether this figure includes the Barnet and Chase Farm patients.

The £351m-turnover trust said the problem with its system came to light in August and affected patients in the surgical specialties.

The trust said a panel of clinicians was working to establish whether patients had been harmed but that no patients on the urgent two-week cancer pathway were affected.

The failure has been reported to the NHS Trust Development Authority as a serious incident.

Alwen Williams, London’s director of delivery and development for the TDA, said in a statement: “It is unacceptable for any patients to be waiting over a year for treatment.

“The trust reported this as a serious incident to us at the end of August 2013. The TDA and commissioners immediately started fortnightly escalation meetings to support the trust to address this issue.

“Since then the trust has been working hard to validate the waiting lists and develop an action plan to ensure patients are treated as quickly as possible. We continue to monitor this work closely and are supporting the trust to review the impact this has had on patients.”

A trust spokeswoman said: “Early indications are that this is a software and not a personnel issue.”

Chief executive Tim Peachey said: “We have an independent team of experts to help us investigate the cause. This will ensure we can improve our systems so that this cannot happen again.”

In January a report commissioned by the trust found evidence of the “misreporting” of accident and emergency waiting time figures. It said: “Developing inappropriate methods to avoid breaches had become accepted practice within A&E.”

Earlier this month it emerged that waiting times for 2,700 elective patients had been improperly recorded at North West London Hospitals Trust. A report said: “There was a culture where some staff felt under pressure to stop patients’ clocks prematurely.”

Readers' comments (6)

  • Hopefully this is just not an investigation into how this happened but there is some accountability and responsibility taken by senior managers in both Trusts for such a significant failure to patients.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Anonymous | 29-Nov-2013 1:30 pm
    "but there is some accountability and responsibility taken by senior managers in both Trusts"

    and by any senior clinicians where they have insisted on running booking systems via their secretary. Not, in my experience, an unusual situation.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Surely GPs could submit data about when their patients were referred and when they were treated and by which trust, and this could be used to monitor actual RTT and waiters more accurately.

    The system relies on trusts self reporting with the choice of honesty+sanctions or fabrication/incompetence.

    Like the pre 1990 Russian widget factories, they tend to tell the Kremlin what they want to hear.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • The trust employs turnaround consultants with no accountability and then wonders why they have problems. Consultancy given power over patient care without any concern for the outcome.

    Well spent £2k a day no tendering and a 9 months contract .

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • How long does it take for an external investigation of a serious incident like this to report on it's findings? It is noted that the SI was reported by BCF in August 2013. Perhaps that may stop defamatory comments such as that submitted by ANON 7:50PM

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Insider perspective 3:15PM is a great suggestion (GP reports of delays in RTT), Why is this not done?

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