Well we've had a blog on PCTs' gaming on targets. Today we consider the activities within Acute Trusts.

Perhaps Innate Prejudice might even bat back an ever so pradaesque comment. Yes, because we know that they know (but they may not know that we know) ways of beating the targets on paper. And they do it whilst changing absolutely nothing for patients. That, or changing it for the worse.

A family friend was called about his elective operation a couple of weeks before the 3 month deadline was up. It was short notice to attend the pre-op clinic and he asked if there was an alternative. Guess what, there wasn't one. So he spent a lot of time making arrangements so he could get there. And more later, so he could make the operation date. Time-consuming arrangements including care for his disabled mother whilst he and his wife were focusing on him for the day, sorting out a car parking pass for his wife so a lift home worked out, etc, etc.

Imagine how he felt on the morning of the operation, when the surgeon (strangely not the one who'd been dealing with him over months, to whom he was by now pretty much tied at the hip) started discussing whether he actually needed it. What is the point of going through the endless rigmarole of outpatient appointments, trying non-invasive options, then further re-assessments, if the decision carefully made at the last appointment is reversed on the day? His operation was cancelled.

The point is they had never had any intention of operating that day. I'm afraid it really was a completely cynical exercise in ticking the boxes. The short notice for the pre-op clinic and the operation itself had been wholly to deter him. Oh yes, and to count it as a 3 month rather than a 6 month wait. Because it all had to be done again 3 months later when, lo and behold, the surgeon who'd been dealing with him throughout was indeed the one having the conversation with him before the op. And lots of people waiting in the daycase unit had similar stories. Quite aside from the personal difficulties and prolonged wait in pain this causes people, a bigger issue emerges. Have waiting times for operations really reduced? What are your experiences, dahlings?

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