• United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust has hundreds of patients overdue a follow up neurology appointment
  • Neurology capacity issue linked to workforce shortages
  • Trust becomes the third to reveal excessive waiting lists for neurology appointments
  • Trust cuts waiting list backlog after closing service to new referrals

A trust in the East of England has become the latest to reveal it has hundreds of neurology patients overdue follow up appointments due to a lack of capacity.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust has confirmed to HSJ that last week it had 610 patients who are overdue their follow up neurology appointments.

The trust said it was forced to close the neurology service to all new referrals in December 2016, as it did not have the capacity to keep up with demand. The capacity problems are understood to be related to a workforce shortage.

The number of overdue follow up appointments at the end of August was down from 838 in December. 

HSJ has previously reported that Burton Hospitals FT had 1002 patients overdue a follow up neurology appointment, while Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals Trust reported it had 369.

United Lincolnshire said since December it has reduced new referrals to a “manageable level” and is now “focusing on the backlog of follow ups.”

In a letter sent to GPs in March 2017, seen by HSJ, the trust said it “has faced significant capacity concerns which has led to excessive waiting times for both new and follow-up [neurology] patients.”

The letter also advised GPs that the pause on referrals would be in place until 1 June, however the trust has since confirmed that it remains closed to almost all referrals apart from “headache” pathways.

The letter recommended GPs sent patients to neighbouring trusts.

In a board paper published last week, the trust said that it expects the service to “recover” by October 2017.

A trust spokeswoman said: “We are working with our clinical commissioning group and GP colleagues to develop pathways of care for patients for four main areas in neurology (headaches, Parkinsons, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis) – the first of these, headaches, is now live and we will be accepting referrals trust wide for patients who have been treated according to the recommendations of this pathway.”

“For the entire closure, we have taken patients into the service who are presenting with convulsive seizures”, or are potential urgent referrals, the spokeswoman added.