More than 100 patients will be offered the chance to have their surgery done privately on the mainland to clear the ‘considerable backlog’ of treatments the Isle of Wight NHS Trust now faces in the aftermath of the first wave of Covid-19.
A senior leader of the trust has spoken of the ‘difficult task’ they will face going forward with operations because of Covid restrictions.
Surgeries put on hold
During the pandemic, elective surgery, as well as other hospital procedures, were put on hold so the trust could provide care for patients most affected by the virus.
This included building a field hospital and medical assessment unit as well as transferring some outpatient facilities to different areas of St Mary’s Hospital or out into the community.
As services start to resume, however, some patients could face a long wait as the trust tries to clear the ‘considerable backlog’ that has amassed due to the stopping of services.
Will take while to be at full operational capacity
Joe Smyth, the trust’s chief operating officer for acute and ambulance services, told a meeting of the Isle of Wight Council’s policy and scrutiny committee for health and social care, the trust was trying to restore services and get things back online to help clear the backlog, but it would take a while to be at full operational capacity.
“It is a difficult task because the restrictions imposed on us by Covid — the wearing of PPE and separating emergency flows from elective flows — means we are only at 66 per cent of the theatre capacity. That means the number of operations we can do is significantly reduced.
“Over the next month, we will be able to bring all the theatres online so we are going to do some work that will allow us to keep the separation of flows and keep people safe.
“Unfortunately, there is no cure or no vaccine at the moment, that means other restrictions to keep staff and patients safe will need to remain in place, which will slow the number of procedures that can go through theatres.”
Elective surgery at 70 per cent by September
Mr Smyth said the best-case scenario would be for elective capacity to be up to 70 per cent in September, but that wasn’t enough to eat into the backlog.
The trust has been working with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight sustainability and transformation partnership and through the private sector, to see how it can get additional capacity to get the waiting lists down.
125 patients offered mainland surgery
This means some 125 patients will be offered the chance to have their procedure done through private care on the mainland, and will be contacted by the NHS in the next few days.
Mr Smyth said:
“We are hoping we can get those people to take up that offer because the backlogs are significant.”
MRI and CT Scans
MRI and CT scans are also only operating at 70 per cent capacity but Mr Smyth hopes with additional central funding, extra MRI and CT machines can be brought in so the current backlog will be cleared by March next year.
In the outpatient department, plans are being formed to ask patients to remain in their vehicles until they are called in for their appointment and to keep the virtual ways people have been seen through the height of the pandemic going to stop patients unnecessarily coming onto site.
Mr Smyth said:
“We will be writing out to all patients to explain what the situation is and where the waiting lists are — the reason we haven’t done it yet is because we are still working through what the implications are, trying to work out the lists and we are re-prioritising people on that list.”
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some alterations and additions may be been made by OnTheWight. Ed