NHS delays in North Devon, and the plan to help tackle waiting lists

Across North Devon we are seeing an increasing number of clients coming to us having experienced an unnecessary delay in either diagnosing or treating their medical condition.

Delay in diagnosis and treatment is often most serious when it relates to cancer. However, cancer patients are not the only ones to suffer.

We have recently seen an increasing number of GP, paediatric, ophthalmic, orthopaedic, and general surgical cases involving elements of unnecessary or avoidable delay. The consequences for those involved are often life changing.

With more than six million patients on waiting lists for non-urgent operations and procedures in England, NHS England admits that a “number of high impact actions” are required to tackle the long waiting lists and many hospitals are already implementing plans to minimise the backlog.

With a promising start NHS staff have, in the past two months alone, apparently managed to halve the number of patients waiting more than two years.

Whilst that is great news, the National Clinical Director of NHS England acknowledges that there is still a long way to go. Some of the measures being suggested include urging hospitals to:

  • Offer more overtime opportunities to NHS staff rather than relying on agency workers.
  • Tempt retired staff to return by offering part-tine opportunities to train students, help with follow-ups and run virtual consultations; and
  • Removing caps on consultant hours to offer extra hours where safe to do so.

With approximately 21,000 doctors reportedly due to retire in September a focus on training is essential. However, in terms of the other measures mentioned above, the worry for many will be whether NHS staff will become even more overstretched and whether this will have an impact on the quality of care.      

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