PERFORMANCE: Five patients have invoked their rights under the NHS Constitution and requested treatment at an alternative provider after a breach of the 18 week referral-to-treatment target at Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust.

There were 545 breaches of the target by patients on admitted pathways and 139 on non-admitted pathways during December.

The trust has particular problem meeting the target in ear, nose and throat; orthopaedics; opthalmology; oral surgery and gynaecology. The 18 week referral-to-treatment target is no longer being performance managed by the Department of Health. However, it is still being used by the trust’s commissioner, NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly.

A report to the primary care trust board states that recovery plans received on 1 February are well developed for oral surgery and opthalmology, but plans for “orthopaedics and gynaecology fall very short of delivering the activity required to reduce the 18 week backlog to zero”.

The trust has been asked to confirm when 18 weeks will be achieved in these specialities and the PCT has also requested that the trust “contact all the patients on the gynaecology waiting list,” the longest of the waiting lists, to offer an alternative provider.

However, the report states that patient choice is limited to the private Spires Hospital in Bristol, due to the specialist nature of the laparoscopic endometriosis procedures carried out by the Royal Cornwall, which is only offered by four other hospitals nationwide.