PERFORMANCE: Redditch and Bromsgrove Clinical Commissioning Group has asked GPs to stop referring patients to Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust in an effort to reduce its ‘unmanageable’ outpatient waiting time backlog.
The CCG has urged local GPs to refer patients to University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust and private providers in the region instead.
Worcestershire Acute is struggling to treat patients within the 18 week target, particularly for those requiring ear, nose and throat treatment, and gynaecology services.
More than 2,300 patients in the county are waiting over 18 weeks for treatment from the trust.
In a letter to Worcestershire GPs earlier this week, Redditch and Bromsgrove chair Jonathan Wells asked that patients be diverted away from Worcestershire Acute for three months.
Dr Wells wrote: “Without such measures the situation will deteriorate further and our patients will suffer longer waiting times than is acceptable.
“In light of the current situation the trust is unable to reduce the growing number of patients who have breached 18 weeks and still see new patients in a timely manner.
“Both the CCG and Worcestershire Acute have agreed to reduce the number of referrals going to [the trust].
“The CCG has reviewed 18 week performance regionally and in the vast majority of cases referrals to other providers will result in patients being treated sooner than if referred to Worcestershire Acute Trust.”
However, this has prompted concerns at University Hospitals Birmingham that a possible “influx” of patients from outside its immediate catchment area would affect its ability to treat patients quickly.
A University Hospitals Birmingham spokesman said: “The trust has worked hard over the past few years to reduce our waiting times both for elective procedures and in the emergency department.
“We have undertaken a number of initiatives, including refusing out of area referrals in a number of specialties for a period, to improve our performance and ensure patients receive timely treatment in the most appropriate setting.
“It will be disappointing for the trust staff and, more importantly, for our patients from the trust’s catchment area, if we see the level of service we currently offer negatively affected by an influx of patients from outside the area.”
Redditch and Bromsgrove CCG letter and information provided to HSJ