PERFORMANCE: One patient could have suffered ‘serious harm’ because of a delay in receiving elective treatment caused by a large backlog of patients waiting for operations at Barnet and Chase Farm hospitals.

A review by the Royal Free London Foundation Trust, which took over Barnet and Chase Farm hospitals in July, has found that one patient may have suffered “serious harm” and 39 “moderate harm”.

The review has so far looked at 7,174 patients who have now received treatment. It will continue until all the patients who were waiting over 18 weeks have been treated.

Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

The Royal Free worked to develop a plan to treat a backlog from the former Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals Trust

Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals Trust discovered a large backlog of patients waiting for elective treatment last year.

The Royal Free London has worked with commissioners and NHS England to put together a plan for treating these patients.

The trust’s review concluded that one patient “may have experienced serious harm” and 39 patients had “potentially” suffered “moderate harm”, according to a report in the March board papers.

There were also 68 patients who may have suffered “low harm”.

Patients who are still in the backlog can be expected to be treated “within 18 months” after the data is validated. However, the trust hopes to reduce this waiting time.

A review of the 33 patients in the backlog who had since died indicated that “no patient died as a result of waiting for more than 18 weeks for a procedure”.

The trust has outsourced 1,541 patients to private providers since July last year, predominately for endoscopy and ear, nose and throat treatments.

It has also scheduled extra outpatient clinics at weekends and extra theatre lists.

HSJ asked the trust about the progress made in treating long waiting patients and if any patients would receive compensation for suffering harm due to waiting for treatment.

A trust spokeswoman said: “When the Royal Free London acquired the former Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals Trust, it inherited a waiting list in which waiting times were unknown. A key priority for the expanded trust has been to address this issue in close collaboration with our local commissioners and NHS England.

“An extensive and painstaking validation exercise has been undertaken to establish exactly who is still waiting for treatment, alongside a programme of treating long waiters. Once we have a fully validated waiting list we will resume reporting the figures publicly.

“Each patient affected by this issue has been reviewed to determine whether they have might have suffered clinical harm as a result of a delay in treatment. This process has used methodology and standard definitions of harm agreed by commissioners. This review process will continue until all the legacy trust’s patients have completed treatment.

“Any claim for compensation would be considered in the light of the particular circumstances surrounding the patient concerned and in consultation with the NHS Litigation Authority.”