Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH) has reduced the number of patients waiting more than a year and a half by a quarter in a month, despite the busiest winter ever for the health service.
The total number of patients waiting more than 18 months for their planned operation, including hip and knee replacements, hernia repairs and ear, nose and throat surgery, has fallen by 26% from 803 on 15 January 2023 to 591 as of 12 February 2023.
This comes despite several thousand appointments being affected by industrial action since the start of December, with many operations and outpatient appointments having to be rescheduled.
Over the busy winter months, staff at NUH have experienced record pressures in A&E and across the hospitals.
At one point, more than 300 patients were being treated for flu and Covid – the equivalent of ten wards worth.
Despite these pressures, staff have continued to focus on reducing the length of time patients are waiting for non-urgent operations by boosting theatre utilisation, increasing capacity and accessing support from other NHS trusts through mutual aid.
- Staff in the ophthalmology team have doubled the number of cataract operations performed by significantly reducing the turnaround time between patients.
- We have created more surgical capacity with 80 additional operating lists focused solely on those patients who are waiting the longest.
- A third surgical robot has been purchased, allowing more patients to have minimally invasive operations. This significantly reduces their stay in hospital meaning more patients can be treated.
- The use of artificial intelligence to map out the patient pathway in greater detail ensures that the maximum number of patients can have their procedure on any given operating list.
- A new surgical ward – the Jubilee Unit – opened at City Hospital earlier this month, allowing us to move more operations from the Queen’s Medical Centre to City Hospital where it is less affected by emergency pressures.
Clinical Lead for the Elective Pathway and Consultant Anaesthetist, Dr Adam Carney, said:
“Despite the ongoing pressures, our staff are working incredibly hard to get people into hospital and treated as soon as possible.
“They are, yet again, going above and beyond and I want to thank them for their ongoing efforts and flexibility.
“Behind the figures are people and we know how frustrating and difficult it is for those patients who have had to wait longer for their operation due to backlogs caused by the Covid pandemic.
“Our staff will continue to focus their efforts on reducing waiting times and provide sufficient capacity to provide patients with timely care and clear our backlogs.”
Further capacity to carry out planned and emergency procedures is expected this summer with the opening of three new operating theatres.
NUH has also been awarded £35m of Government funding to build a new surgical elective hub at Nottingham City Hospital, which will allow planned operations to be ‘ring-fenced’ so they are not affected by emergency pressures. The hub is due to open in 2024.
The recently published People First report – a new plan to make improvements across NUH – sets out how the Trust will continue to recover waiting times, including the development of a clinically-led strategy for planned care that will support the effect use our capacity and ensure everyone can access services in a timely manner.