Health debts are hitting waiting lists

HEALTH bosses have today admitted the financial difficulties plaguing the region's NHS are having an effect on hospital waiting lists.A new report shows that the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority has some of the biggest waiting lists in the country.

HEALTH bosses have today admitted the financial difficulties plaguing the region's NHS are having an effect on hospital waiting lists.

A new report shows that the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority has some of the biggest waiting lists in the country.

It has the second highest number of people on inpatient waiting lists of any health authority in the country, and the third highest waiting more than 13 weeks for an outpatient appointment.

Rowena Barnes, the SHA's head of performance improvement for Suffolk, said: "The financial situation has certainly had an impact.


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"When finances have been less of an issue it's been a bit easier to say 'If we need to see more patients in order to meet targets, then we need to bring more people in.' We are not in a position to do that now, we can't afford more activity.

"We have to see how we can meet the targets by working differently."

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Mrs Barnes said this would involve seeing people at the end of the list in turn - so that the first to be seen would be those who had been waiting longest, rather than those whose operations were the easiest to schedule in.

The report to the board of the SHA shows that, in the second week of February, around 47,000 people in the region were waiting for a hospital appointment. Of these, 5,000 had been waiting 13 weeks or more for an outpatient appointment and 4,500 waiting more than six months for an inpatient appointment.

Government targets state that by the end of December no-one should be waiting more than 13 weeks for an outpatient appointment or six months for an inpatient appointment.

Mrs Barnes is confident the region will hit these targets, despite the financial problems.

She said: "I have no doubt about it.

"Waiting lists in this region have always been high but we have made continual progress year on year. "We have met the national targets that have been set and we are continuing to work towards them."

The SHA's board were due to be discussing the figures at a meeting in Ipswich

today.

Have you had a long wait for an operation? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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