Dozens of patients wait 6 weeks or more for tests at Salisbury hospital

Dozens of patients wait 6 weeks or more for tests at Salisbury hospital

Published by Mike Draper with contributions by Local Democracy Reporter Tommy Lumby at 4:01am 25th August 2019. (Updated at 8:15am 26th August 2019)

Experts are blaming delays on a lack of funding, meaning hospitals don't have the necessary staff or equipment to keep up with demand.

NHS England data shows that:

  • 3,934 patients at Salisbury NHS Trust were waiting for one of the tests at the end of June
  • But 87 (2.2%) had waited six weeks or more, above the national target of 1%
  • Of those, eight were kept waiting for at least 13 weeks

NHS trusts provide information on how long patients have been waiting for 15 key tests at the end of each month.

The procedures are used to diagnose a wide range of diseases and conditions, including cancers, heart failure, hearing problems and sleep disorders.

According to NHS rules, after a patient is referred for one of the tests, they should have it done within six weeks.

The Salisbury District Hospital, SDH NHS Trust Headquarters building.
Almost 4,000 patients at Salisbury NHS Trust were waiting for one of the tests at the end of June.

THE WAIT FOR TESTS INCREASES

Colonoscopy - the most common type of test for which patients saw delays - useful for checking certain bowel conditions - 37 people waited at least six weeks.

Gastroscopy - the next most delayed test - used to diagnose various problems with parts of the digestive system - 19 patients endured the same hold-up.

CT Scan - 12 people were left waiting the same length of time - it takes X-ray images of the body that can detect problems such as bone damage and injuries to internal organs.

The CT scanner waiting area at Salisbury District Hospital.
12 people were left waiting 6 weeks or more for a CT scan.

The rate of patients at the trust waiting six weeks or more has risen - 0.8% experienced such a delay in June 2018.

READ MORE

In 2015 Salisbury District Hospital installed a second CT Scanner, thanks to the Stars Appeal charity. Within the first 12 months of it coming into service radiologists were jumping for joy at how many extra patients it enabled them to see.

HOW SALISBURY HOSPITAL COMPARES:

The trend at the trust reflects that across England, where 3.8% of patients had waited at least six weeks for the tests at the end of June - the figure stood at 2.9% the previous June.

IMPACT ON PATIENTS

Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine says he tests had grown in number and complexity, adding to the problem of staff shortages and old equipment:

"Delays are bad for patient care and their experience of care."

"The other issue with delays in routine tests is that the conditions deteriorate, necessitating emergency admission or doctors keeping patients in hospital for a test when they might have otherwise gone home."

A spokesperson for The Royal College of Radiologists said increasing waiting times were 'deeply frustrating, but sadly unsurprising':

"Hospital imaging departments are struggling all year round, as the demand for scans continues to spiral and we simply do not have enough capacity on scanners, radiographic staff or radiology consultants to keep up due to underfunding."

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