The must read stories and debate in the NHS

Hidden figures

A large teaching hospital has ordered its second review of waiting lists in a year after another cohort of patients were found to be missing from records.

Imperial College Healthcare Trust in London told HSJ it was “undertaking another full data clean-up to identify all patients who have been incorrectly tracked and provide their treatment as quickly as possible”.

The £1bn turnover trust said it hoped to find out how many patients had been missed out of official figures by the end of this month.

In April, the trust audited its waiting list for elective procedures and found significant numbers of patients who had waited more than a year.

The latest data showed that as of August, 301 Imperial patients were waiting to be seen and had waited more than 52 weeks. In the six months to the end of August, the trust treated 859 patients who had waited more than a year.

The national total over the same period was 5,957.

Looking the wrong way

Andy Burnham has said health leaders in Greater Manchester should reflect on the much heralded reconfiguration of hospital services in the region, saying it “took time, energy and focus away from where it should have been”.

In an interview with HSJ, the region’s mayor said the Healthier Together consultation “came at the wrong end of the telescope” and efforts should have focused on health and social care integration.

Although the Healthier Together process included workstreams on primary and community care, the public debate and much of the senior leader involvement was dominated by the controversial plans to consolidate emergency general surgery at four hospitals.

Engagement around the project started in 2013, with a final decision made in July 2015. The eventual unanimous decision by commissioners and subsequent failure of a judicial review was hailed within the NHS as a major success for the Greater Manchester health economy, and a boost to the region’s devolution programme.

More than two years later, the changes are still to be implemented, however funding has been secured and business cases agreed.

But he told HSJ: “People need to reflect on why Healthier Together was so problematic. I think what happened was it went for quite a high end, quite narrow focus, which was emergency surgery affecting quite a small group.

“It didn’t really look at the whole question around integration. It almost came at the wrong end of the telescope, I think. It took a lot of time, energy and focus away from where it should have been.”