Patients removed from hospital waiting lists in data error

The boss of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust has apologised after “errors in data” caused 1,800 patients to be taken off the waiting list without being seen.

The patients were “removed automatically” from the appointment waiting list at Queen’s Hospital, Romford, and King George Hospital, Goodmayes, after being referred by their GPs.

Of the 1,800 people who were taken off the list without being seen, “around 600” have been waiting for more than a year and “approximately 200” for more than two years.

Matthew Trainer, chief executive of (BHRUT) – which runs Queen’s and King George hospitals – apologised for the error in a report to the trust’s board this week.

He said: “As we’ve been working through the waiting lists, we’ve discovered a problem with one of them that was used to deal with the backlog created by the pandemic.

“It contained routine referrals from GPs who wanted their patients to be seen by a specialist, but for whom there were no appointments available.

“Unfortunately, these patients were removed automatically from this list before they had been seen.

“We are putting on extra clinics to reduce the backlog. When mistakes happen in healthcare, I believe it’s important to be open and transparent about what went wrong and be clear about what’s being done to put it right.

“It is stressful being on a waiting list and I am sorry this has happened.”

Trainer said the trust has now “fixed the error” and contacted affected patients – who were waiting to see specialists at routine gynaecology, neurology, neurosurgery and ophthalmology clinics.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service asked BHRUT how the error occurred, when it was noticed, and what had been done to avoid it happening again. No response had been received at the time of publication.

Healthwatch Redbridge’s chief executive Cathy Turland said: “We can appreciate that BHRUT is working hard to address this, but would also want to hear from anyone who is affected and does support support.

“We would help and assist with anything like this.”

Clinical harm reviews are being carried out to assess the impact on patients’ health and a “formal group” has been set up that will report to BHRUT’s board of directors.

Addressing the trust’s public board meeting, Trainer said the “errors in data” had dealt a “blow” to reducing the 63,200 patient waiting list. Despite this, the trust is “confident” about meeting the national NHS target of clearing most patients who have been waiting more than 104 weeks.

Since last year BHRUT has run a number of “innovative” projects to tackle the backlog of patients, including “super weeks” focusing on particular surgeries. This includes 135 hip and knee replacements in seven days, special Saturday clinics to treat more than 1,000 patients and reviews of hundreds of other patients waiting for treatment.

According to NHS statistics, BHRUT sees 63 per cent of patients within 18 weeks, only 1 per cent more than the current national NHS rate.

In March, the trust started treatment of 12,200 in-patients and out-patients, the majority within 52 weeks.

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Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter

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