King's Mill apologises to children waiting too long for routine treatment
Hundreds of children needing routine treatment at King’s Mill Hospital in Sutton have been waiting too long, new figures show.
The hospital has now apologised, blaming the Covid-19 pandemic and insisting things are getting back to normal.
The data, from NHS Digital took a snapshot of the waiting lists in May this year at King’s Mill and other hospitals run by the Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust, namely Newark Hospital and Mansfield Community Hospital.
It revealed that 12 per cent of patients scheduled for non-urgent, consultant-led paediatric care had been waiting longer than the stipulated time of within 18 weeks
This equated to 306 children, of whom 20 had been waiting more than 36 weeks, at least double the recommended time.
And despite a zero-tolerance approach to waits of more than 52 weeks, four children had been on the waiting list for more than a year.
Across England as a whole, 72,600 youngsters, as many as 29 per cent, had been on the list for more than 18 weeks, which means that Sherwood Forest Hospitals was well below the national average.
A spokesperson for the Sherwood trust said: “Delays in care are not what we want for any of our patients, and we apologise to those affected.
"Like all NHS trusts, over the course of the pandemic, we have had to pause or cancel some outpatient, diagnostic and surgical appointments as we concentrated on the huge challenge of Covid-19 and on keeping patients safe.
"We have now restored all of our services and have contacted patients on our waiting lists as we work through our recovery.
"As the numbers quoted from NHS Digital show, comparatively fewer young patients at Sherwood are waiting than the national average, and we continue to work hard to bring these patients in as quickly as it is safe to do so.”
Experts warn that difficulties accessing care could put the development and wellbeing of children at risk.
Now, the Patients Association and Healthwatch England organisations have called on the NHS to ensure families are kept up to date as they wait for treatment.
Chris McCann, of Healthwatch, labelled the national data worrying and was leaving parents feeling “stressed, confused and ignored”.
He said: “With appointments being cancelled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the NHS facing a backlog, those affected need to be informed where they are on a waiting list.”
Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, said a long wait could have an impact on whether a parent can go to work or not.
She added: “It can be a very worrying time, especially if a child is in discomfort or pain. Families feel they are in limbo.”
Prof Stephen Powis, NHS medical director, defended the figures, pointing out that waiting times had been cut since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
He said: “The pandemic caused huge disruption to care, with more than 405,000 Covid patients in our hospitals in the last 15 months.
"Therefore, it is reassuring to see significant reductions in waits for routine operations and a reduction in the number of patients waiting more than 18 weeks for treatment.”