PERFORMANCE: Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust will have to treat an extra 98,000 elective patients over 18 months at an estimated cost of £20m.

The trust stopped reporting its referral to treatment waiting list in December 2013 when the introduction of a new patient administration system uncovered a large number of patients waiting over 18 weeks, making its existing data inaccurate.

Surgeon's hand reaching for scalpel

The trust will now have to perform 5,000 additional operations

An investigation by the trust revealed it was using incorrect methodology to manage its waiting list, which “significantly overstated” its RTT performance, according to a report to the trust’s October board meeting. This meant that in one month the trust had admitted only 65 per cent of patients, not 89 per cent as previously reported to NHS England.

Since uncovering the error the trust has reduced its admitted backlog from 4,000 to 1,200 patients.

The trust will now have to perform 5,000 operations and hold 93,000 outpatient appointments over 18 months to bring its waiting list down to a level that will allow it to meet waiting time targets again.

The trust could not confirm how many patients have been waiting over 18 weeks but chief operating officer, Sarah Tedford, said the 98,000 operations and appointments are “far higher” than the number of patients who have been waiting over 18 weeks.

It will also need to increase diagnostic tests, including an extra 2,700 CT scans, 2,800 MRIs, 6,900 ultrasound tests and 1,600 endoscopies.

The trust has been outsourcing some of its work to private providers since December 2013. Additional permanent consultants and locum doctors will be appointed to speed up the work. The trust will also try to reduce the number of missed appointments.

Last year the trust estimated it would need £11.1m in 2015-16 to clear the admitted backlog between July 2014 and April 2015. It has estimated that £20m is required for 2016-17.

Ms Tedford said: “An enormous amount of work has taken place to clear the backlog of patients who have been waiting too long for treatment. We have reduced our admitted backlog by around 75 per cent, and are now concentrating on treating our non-admitted patients and putting in place processes and capacity to ensure this situation does not arise again.

“The number of operations and appointments we need to provide over the next 18 months are far higher than the actual number of patients who have been waiting more than 18 weeks or the actual backlog of patients. We have not been reporting our performance because of the quality of the data. We have now improved the data quality and we are waiting for an independent review of this work to be completed, and will then resume reporting.

“Our recovery and improvement plan is being finalised with our CCG partners. Only then will we be able to accurately forecast the cost of the project. The cost in 2015-16 is covered in the contract agreement with our commissioners.”

A Havering CCG spokeswoman said: “The [£20m] figure identified by the trust is just their estimate of the cost of dealing with the elective care backlog. As lead commissioners acting on behalf of our partner CCGs in Barking and Dagenham and Redbridge, we have agreed a sustainable contract with the trust for this year and we will look at any further elective care costs as part of the next contracting round.”