• Royal Free stops RTT reporting as it tries to fix data issues
  • Recent figures show elective performance problems
  • New staff and data software brought in to help validate 440,000 patient records

A leading London hospital trust has stopped reporting its elective waiting list data, citing issues with accuracy.

Royal Free London Foundation Trust has not submitted February’s data to NHS England against the 18-week referral to treatment target.

The large trust – which has been trying to create a hospital group – has stopped reporting because “we cannot be sure that our data for this standard is accurate,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.

It identified data accuracy problems last year and has been working on an improvement plan. It will stop reporting RTT data until the issues are resolved.

According to commissioners, a data validation exercise examining 440,000 records could run until April 2020.

RFL operates across three sites in north London and was designated the lead trust in a vanguard group.

Its former group chief executive, Sir David Sloman, was recently appointed the director of the new joint NHSE and Improvement London region.

Trusts are meant to have at least 92 per cent of patients in treatment within 18 weeks following referral by a consultant.

In January, RFL reported 74 per cent of patients were treated inside the 18-week target, but it also reported it had 67 people who had been waiting more than a year.

March board papers included unvalidated figures for February that estimated 75 per cent of patients were starting treatment inside 18 weeks but there were now 89 patients who had been waiting for more than 52 weeks.

The trust has been below the 92 per cent standard since July 2017. The number of people reported to be waiting more than a year increased rapidly that month. It fluctuated over the following nine months but has grown since May 2018.

Consultancy MBI Health has been reviewing the trust’s RTT patient tracking list and had to rewrite the computer script used to generate it.

The trust plans on reviewing and checking the accuracy of 440,000 records by April 2020, though this will depend on available resources and “may require outsourcing” according to the March board paper for the north central London joint commissioning committee.

The trust has procured a data validation tool from MBI Health and had hired five data validators, out of a target of 10.

RFL has identified “capacity constraints in several specialisms, including urology, pain management, trauma and orthopaedics. Recovery actions are in place for these specialities,” according to Camden Clinical Commissioning Group.

The RFL spokeswoman told HSJ “the pause in reporting will not affect waiting times for patients”. The trust is “now implementing new, robust methods for measuring RTT data to prevent this happening again”.