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Oswestry Hospital Set to Meet National Waiting Time Targets

The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital Trust which is responsible for the running of Oswestry Hospital has reported that it is set to meet waiting time targets following an investigation into the Trust by Government Health Regulator, Monitor.

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Monitor to Investigate the Trust

It was announced in June of this year that following concerns raised by a third party in March, Monitor would be investigating the Trust amid concerns that too many patients were waiting longer than the 18 week national target for day-care or inpatient treatment procedures.

Monitor found that although most patients were being treated within the national target of 18 weeks, this was fewer than 70% of patients compared with a national target of 90%. Further, only 80% of day surgery patients were being treated within 18 weeks compared with a national target of 95%.

Specific examples of failings included the cases of three English patients who waited longer than 52 weeks for treatment and a Welsh patient who had been referred for spinal surgery who waited beyond a year for treatment.

Such examples are particularly concerning in light of the impact that delay in treatment can have on such patients. It is widely acknowledged by medical professionals that the longer spinal injuries are left without treatment, the more likely they will deteriorate and the less chance there is of full recovery. This means that patients can be left with life long disabilities through no fault of their own as a result of a failure to take prompt action in treatment. Even in those patients who do make a full recovery, it is likely whilst waiting for treatment they will experience prolonged pain and suffering.

£5k Fines per Patient

Monitor were concerned that these failings, along with inaccuracy in reporting waiting times and performance figures within the hospital, stemmed from problems with the overall running of the Trust.

Monitor therefore announced it would be working with the Trust to address the source of these problems and to provide support to the Trust in ensuring improvement.

For the duration of the investigation, which is still on-going, the Trust is being fined £5,000 per patient who has waited beyond a year for treatment.

In light of this, the Trust has implemented a recovery plan. Oswestry Hospital has a worldwide reputation as a specialist orthopaedic hospital and it was noted in the Trust’s plan that one reason for failure to meet waiting time targets is the fact that the Hospital is in such high demand. The Trust’s plan therefore involves ensuring capacity meets demand by investing in additional clinicians. The Trust believe this will ensure targets will be met and have announced that by the end of October they expect treatment of all English patients to be commenced within national targets as well as treatment for most Welsh patients, with a few exceptions due to late referrals.

Not the First Time

Unfortunately, this is not the first time in recent years the Trust has been subject to such investigation. The last investigation into the Trust concluded in November 2013 following findings of an average waiting time for treatment of 41 weeks.

It is to be hoped that addressing the root causes of these delays through new measures will produce positive results for patients waiting for treatment at the Hospital.