PERFORMANCE: Monitor has launched an investigation into a Shropshire orthopaedic hospital over excessive waiting times and the accuracy of its reporting.

The regulator is probing Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital Foundation Trust, after becoming concerned that too many patients were waiting longer than 18 weeks for day case or inpatient procedures.

Monitor said it also had concerns about how accurately the trust is reporting its performance data for routine operations, after “potential problems were identified by a third party”.

In its March board papers, the FT said it had identified “some issues around both process and demand”, which had resulted in non-compliance against two of the waiting time standards.

Its performance against the 18 week admitted referral to treatment target slumped from 90.4 per cent performance in January to 73.5 per cent in February.

For the incomplete pathways its performance deteriorated from 92 to 83.1 per cent over the same period.

The board papers said the non-compliance related to “the practice around a number of our month-end validation processes”, which required “further review” and had therefore been discontinued.

The papers added that the trust’s external auditors had been commissioned to investigate the issue.

Monitor regional director Katherine Cawley said: “Some patients aren’t being treated within a reasonable amount of time at RJAH.

“We are investigating the trust to find out why it isn’t meeting these targets, and if we need to take further action to make sure local patients aren’t waiting too long.”

Trust chief executive Wendy Farrington Chadd said steps had been taken to improve waiting times over the last three months.

She added that the external auditors’ work “while still in progress, has informed the trust’s 2014-15 position as reported in our quality account and annual report”.

“The trust has implemented a recovery plan to ensure it is back in compliance with waiting time targets and we are progressing well against this plan,” Ms Farrington Chadd said.

The trust was “very sorry that some patients are currently waiting longer for their surgery”, she added.

“As a specialist trust we continue to experience high demand for our services and many patients present to us with additional complexities, and may already have been waiting for treatment elsewhere in the system.”