Southend Hospital’s “waiting list of pain”

Southend Hospital now has a 53,000-strong “waiting list of pain” as patients desperately await treatment.

Paul Collins, Lib Dem councillor for Eastwood Park, condemned waiting lists at Southend Hospital and underlined the case of a patient who has waited 75 weeks for a urology operation.

He spoke out after hearing an update by Andrew Pike, chief operating officer at Southend Hospital. Mr Pike told a city council scrutiny meeting national newspaper reports claiming Southend waiting lists were the worst in the country – with one in five people waiting for treatment – were incorrect.

However, he admitted there was a “long way to go” to reduce waits for sick patients. Despite the reports, one in eight patients are waiting for treatment.

Mr Collins said: “The waiting list is not good and I’m glad to hear that the hospital and the trust is taking it seriously and working on it.

“The 75 weeks waiting for a urology operation for a resident I was speaking to has caused issues for his health.

“It’s deteriorated. The community nurses are running round supporting him on a regular basis so there is an extra cost there.

“The equipment he is using to carry on until his operation comes round is costing us money so it’s very much a waiting list of pain for people. I’m pleased to hear that we are working on that to bring it down.”

Mr Pike assured councillors the waiting lists were actually near to the country’s average figures . He said a graph showing 20,000 patients waiting more than 65 weeks referred to the entire number of people, “a cohort”, who would require treatment before the end of the financial year but who may receive treatment before that time.

He said: “The actual number of people today waiting more than 65 weeks is 2,800 and the cohort size has now dropped to just over 12,000. We are actually reducing the waiting list for those waiting more than 65 weeks to not far short of 1,500 patients a week across the whole trust.”

Mr Pike confirmed Southend Hospital waiting list, including ophthalmology treatment for patients across the trust, is 53,000 people.

He added: “Against some of those newspaper headlines that’s not one in five of the population. The Southend population is broadly speaking waiting as long as the national average which is far from acceptable but that’s the work we’re doing to reduce the waiting time.

“There is still a long way to go still too many patients waiting in A&E too long but I think we are moving services in the right direction.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter