PERFORMANCE: Walsall Healthcare Trust has missed its target to clear an elective care backlog by the end of March, HSJ can reveal.

The backlog was the result of a “perfect storm” of increased emergency and elective demand and data quality issues linked to a change to a new computer system, which all hit the West Midlands trust at the end of last year.

Richard Kirby

Richard Kirby said the trust is working with commissioners on solutions to clear the backlog

The trust now estimates the backlog is unlikely to be cleared until towards the end of 2015.

Walsall stopped submitting its referral to treatment data for national reporting purposes last year because of the data problems, which meant it was unable to confirm the number of patients waiting longer than the 18 week target.

The trust had planned to clear its backlog by the end of the 2014-15 financial year.

However, Walsall chief executive Richard Kirby told HSJ at the beginning of this month “we haven’t been able to do that”.

Mr Kirby said it was likely to take the trust “most of 2015 to get things back on an even keel” due to the scale of the data quality problems it was working through.

He said the trust had made “steady progress” clearing up the issues but would probably not be able to confirm the exact size of the backlog until the end of this month.

“We’re cracking on treating the longest waiting patients first, we’re well down the way of making sure the data quality is right… and [we] are working with [Walsall Clinical Commissioning Group] on solutions to generate the capacity to clear [the backlog], some of which are internal to the trust and some of which are using support from other providers.”

According Walsall’s board papers last month, while the trust is not submitting its data for national reporting, its own “benchmarking” would have ranked it 130 out of 130 in the country for the 18 week incomplete pathway in December.

It would have come 131 out of 131 for the non-admitted pathway, and 124 out of 131 for the admitted pathway.