A South London hospital has slashed its patient backlog – but more than 1,000 have still waited a year to be treated.
The 52-week backlog at St George’s Hospital in Tooting has fallen from a peak of 2,644 patients in March 2021 to 1,041 patients as of September 21.
This is lower than the predicted figure of 1,800 for this time of year – but the trust thinks over 800 people will still be waiting by the end of the year.
The cut in waiting times has been down to more referrals and increased efficiency from working remotely as turnaround of patient appointments can be faster.
Dr Richard Jennings, chief medical officer at St George’s Hospital, told Wandsworth Council’s adult care and health scrutiny committee: “The situation is improving… We have decreased the number of our patients who’ve waited over 52 weeks for treatment.
Read more:St George’s Hospital temporarily pauses all routine planned operations and outpatient appointments
“The fact that the figures are just over 1,000 I think is a tribute to the enormous amount of work that our staff have been doing to try and catch up with this issue.
“That’s largely because we’re seeing substantial numbers of referrals… After dropping off during the second most dramatic wave of Covid.”
He added: “I think that we’ve benefited from Covid helping us to realise how much we can do non-face-to-face work.
“And the advantage of that often being the patient appreciates that more because they get a more rapid turnaround.
“We have a balance of face-to-face and virtual outpatient work, but I certainly think that we’re more flexible and more agile and more appropriate in the way that we balanced that now than we ever have been in pre Covid times.”
The trust has also seen Covid patient hospital admissions plateauing. There were 18 Covid patients in the hospital in intensive care as of September 21, and a further 28 in general and acute beds.
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But the Tooting hospital said it is now seeing a larger proportion of the over 60s being admitted.
Black people are between two and two-and-a-half times more likely to go to hospital with coronavirus when compared to white and Asian people, but taking the vaccine “largely disappears the risk”, health bosses say.
Speaking about vaccination, Dr Jennings said: “We do know that vaccine hesitancy is a tractable issue, it’s an issue which does improve and has improved over time and we shouldn’t give up on this.
“I think it’s important that people understand that tragically at the moment there are some people who are getting sick and indeed dying with Covid, who might not have been in that very sad situation, had they had the vaccine.”
St George’s Hospital has been contacted for comment.
Have you waited a long time for treatment at St George’s Hospital? Get in touch [email protected]