Long wait for hospital treatment more common

THE NUMBER of people waiting longer than 18 weeks for treatment such as joint replacements has risen by 35 per cent under Hastings and Rother Primary Care Trust in the last year.

Department of Health figures revealed the number had risen from 127 in November 2010 to 195 in November 2011.

The Trust blamed the rise on factors such as severe cold weather and extra bank holidays.

But prospective parliamentary candidate for Hastings and Rye, Sarah Owen, believes there are other reasons. She said: “After speaking with local GPs and health care staff they have expressed concern at the impact that national decisions are having on local services which in this case can be seen with more patients here waiting longer than 18 weeks for treatment.”

Dr Hugh Nicholson from Stone Street Surgery said: “Patients are extremely disappointed that we can no longer offer them an assurance for the time scale in which they will be seen.

“One of my patients had previously had only 13 weeks to wait for their treatment. That has now increased to six months.

“Unfortunately this is becoming much more frequent.”

Trust spokesman Jamie Whitburn said: “There are a number of reasons that can contribute to a rise in waiting times. For example periods of severe cold weather and additional bank holidays have put extra strain on the system during this time.

“NHS staff are working extremely hard to address this.

“NHS organisations are working together across Sussex to treat those patients who have been waiting longer than we would like for treatment.

“We have robust plans in place to provide extra capacity which will ensure the waiting time standards are met over the coming months.”