Monday 21 October 2019
As part of the ongoing initiative to reduce orthopaedic waiting times for patients, HSC has secured a further off-island partner, Ramsay Health Care UK to assist with the next tranche of the waiting list initiative.
As part of this engagement, HSC has written to more than 60 patients to inform them of the new relationship and, in turn, Ramsay Health Care have been in contact with those patients to offer them the opportunity to have their treatment at New Hall Hospital in Salisbury.
This takes the total number of patients who have been offered the opportunity to receive their treatment off-island to nearly 200 and HSC are continuing to identify further patients for whom off-island treatment could be an option.
Progress has already been made with 410 contract patients on the orthopaedic inpatient waiting list as at 30th September 2019, which is down from 522 at the end of 2018. However, whilst the total number of people on the inpatient waiting list has reduced, significant numbers of new patients joining the list (over 700 in the first six months of 2019) has reduced the speed at which the overall backlog can be addressed.
Of the patients contacted by HSC so far, around 90 patients declined the offer for off-island treatment for a variety of reasons or were found to not be suitable for treatment at that time due to clinical reasons. Further patients were discharged because they no longer required the treatment. A total of 54 patients have since received their treatment at either the Orthopaedic & Spine Specialist Hospital in Peterborough, Spire Hospital in Southampton or Jersey's General Hospital and it is hoped that those who accept the offer of treatment with Ramsay will receive their operation by the end of the year.
Health & Social Care has also worked closely with the Guernsey Therapy Group (GTG) as part of the measures brought in to reduce the waiting list. The GTG has ensured pre-op care is in place for patients travelling off-island, and post-op physio appointments are booked before their surgery takes place. The GTG has also provided essential clinical guidance and support and HSC are extremely grateful for their input and support of this initiative.
The Medical Specialist Group is ensuring any unused theatre lists are used by orthopaedic surgeons, resulting in a small increase in the number of patients that can be seen per week on island. On top of this, MSG surgeons have worked additional hours, supported by HSC staff, which over the course of four Saturdays allowed for an extra 17 patients to be treated. This however has put strain on all staff who are providing this care on top of their normal, full working week but their contributions are very much appreciated.
All patients who have received treatment as part of this initiative have received a customer feedback questionnaire in which they have been asked their opinions on the initiative, from first contact to the pre-assessment clinics, the travel to the UK and their surgery. We would be grateful if patients would take the time to complete and return these questionnaires back to the HSC team so we can further improve the service provided to future patients.
In terms of the costs to provide these additional services, earlier this year the Policy & Resources Committee agreed to provide a total of £1.5m in 2019 from the Budget Reserve to fund this work. Up to the end of September, £900,000 has been committed with a review of providers scheduled to assess the most effective use of the balance. While this investment has had a positive impact on waiting times, the Island's ageing demographic is having a very real impact on many Health & Social Care services. Orthopaedic surgeries is one of the most affected and there continues to be considerable demand on services. As such, the Committee made a request, as part of the 2020 Budget for a further £1.5m to speed up the progress in reducing the waiting list and help ensure waiting times can be kept a short as possible.
Deputy Heidi Soulsby, President of the Committee for Health & Social Care said:
"The scale of orthopaedic work arising illustrates the massive challenge facing our health service. Orthopaedic services account for over 25% of all planned surgical interventions and this figure is rising. Analysis has shown increasing demand which, in common with many areas of health and care, can be attributed to the needs of our ageing population.
"Many patients have waited longer than they should have to, and for those who are still waiting, we are sorry. HSC is working hard with all of its partners to respond to these issues and we thank all those involved for their work.
"The allocation of additional funding in 2019 and hopefully 2020 has been, and will be, beneficial in enabling the Committee to work with providers to address the immediate challenges. However whilst HSC is extremely grateful for the additional short term investment it does not address the underlying challenge associated with increased demand. The number of patients joining the list each week illustrates the scale of the challenge and the Committee intends to work with providers to identify opportunities to review and enhance current arrangements in order to sustainably meet the increased demand in the future."
The Committee for Health & Social Care will continue to provide further updates in the coming months.