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Thousands of Islanders waiting for hospital treatment

Thousands of Islanders waiting for hospital treatment

Tuesday 21 July 2020

Thousands of Islanders waiting for hospital treatment

Tuesday 21 July 2020


New figures have revealed that there are 10,088 waiting list appointments at the Hospital, with some Islanders waiting more than nine months for an operation.

Islanders also missed over 5,500 hospital appointments this year, 8% of the total number.

The data is part of an online platform that has been designed by the Health Department to provide the most accurate waiting list figures ever recorded in the island. It was launched on the same day that outpatient services resumed after lockdown. 

The new figures show that the average waiting time for all elective surgery was 17.7 weeks in June, although this rose to 43 weeks for ‘general surgery’. 

By publishing the data in an interactive format on gov.je, the Health Department hopes that its transparent approach will help patients better understand the journey they are on.

They also expect that it will be easier to identify where they need to channel resources. The data has already revealed the need for a new general surgeon and changes to theatre timetables. 

Health Minister Richard Renouf said: “We stopped publishing waiting list data last October because, quite frankly, we had no faith that it reflected the true picture. It was only a snapshot and not particularly reliable because there was no clear process to input information."

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Pictured: Health Minister Deputy Richard Renouf.

Caroline Landon, Director General of Health and Community Services, added. “We fully recognise that the lengths of some lists aren’t pretty, but we now have full knowledge of every patient pathway so our clinicians can properly work out what is a reasonable wait, based on clinical priority.

"We will have hot spots, but we now have a far better understanding of how to meet that demand. It might be that we need to recruit more clinicians, but it doesn’t have to be; it could involve moving existing resources around.”

Q&A...

Why do we have waiting lists?

Waiting lists are used to manage referrals from medical professionals, such as GPs, dentists and others, to specialists within the health system. There are two main lists: one for outpatients and another for inpatients, who are those who require an operation and/or stay in hospital. On each list, patients are categorised as ‘urgent’, ‘soon’ or ‘routine’ based on their clinical need.

What’s the difference between this new system and the old way of compiling and publishing waiting lists?

Health says that, previously, numbers were recorded at the end of each month which meant that they were only accurate for a few days at best. Now, data is inputted daily. There was also a lengthy period of fact-checking before the website went live, which brought down recorded waiting times across the board. They are no longer based on a mean average length but on the median, which removes atypical cases.  

What does this mean for Islanders waiting for a hospital visit?

With more information being fed into the system on a daily basis, Health officials say that the picture will be far more accurate. They’re not saying that delays will disappear, but they hope that patients will have a better grasp of what is a ‘reasonable’ wait. Equally, they think they will be in a better position to recruit the right people or move existing chess pieces around the board, to reduce waiting times. Above all, Health say that urgent cases will always take priority.

Are Jersey’s waiting lists long? 

It's hard to say at present, but the next phase of the project will be to introduce benchmarking to find out what is a ‘reasonable’ wait for each procedure. When it comes to off-island comparisons, Health believes that Jersey waiting times compare favourably with many UK NHS trusts. The number of people on waiting lists rose by 600 due to cancellations caused by the virus lockdown.

What are the covid guidelines if I have to go to hospital?

For outpatient appointments, islanders are being asked to attend their appointments if they have one but to also be aware that there will be a reduced service due to covid, which could include appointments over the phone. 

With elective surgery, patients have to receive a test for covid-19 at the Overdale swabbing clinic, five days before their operation. Following the swab test, the patient will then need to self-isolate at home until the day of their operation, regardless of the result. Members of the patient’s household do not need to isolate but must follow the latest public health guidance.   

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