Great Western Hospitals Foundation Trust has became the latest hospital to close its doors to patients because of “extremely high demand” on its services.
It has agreed with local commissioners to restrict access to its rheumatology service for new routine patients.
The trust was unable to say when this restriction would be lifted.
Chief executive Nerissa Vaughan told the trust’s November board meeting that there was “currently an extremely high demand for rheumatology services at the Great Western Hospital, meaning the team is seeing many more patients than planned for with local commissioners”.
The trust had 21 rheumatology patients waiting longer than 18 weeks to start treatment according to the latest figures from NHS England.
Commissioners have estimated that approximately 30 people a week will now have to seek treatment at an alternative provider.
A spokesman for Swindon Clinical Commissioning Group said the pressure was caused by a “national deficit” of consultants as well as “increasing national demand for rheumatology services”.
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A spokeswoman from Great Western Hospital said: “There is currently an extremely high demand for rheumatology services at the Great Western Hospital and so a decision has been made with our commissioners to focus on treating existing and new urgent patients for the time being.
This means that only patients with certain conditions will be referred to Great Western Hospitals until further notice.
Other new patients with less urgent conditions will be offered a choice of other local providers by their GP.
“This decision was not taken lightly, however it means that the team can ensure existing and new patients needing urgent care continue to receive safe, high quality care, in a timely manner.
“We are working closely with our commissioners to consider how we can meet the growing demand.”
HSJ previously reported that four trusts had taken the controversial step of restricting access to services for routine patients outside their catchment area because of increased demand.