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Delays as health service cracks under pressure

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Delays as health service cracks under pressure

ABOUT 220 people have been waiting longer than 12 months for healthcare treatment in Dumfries and Galloway – with the numbers rising every week.

And in February this year, one cancer patient who was supposed to wait a maximum of 62 days for treatment didn’t see a specialist for 145 days.

Health chiefs admitted last week that the emergency department at Dumfries Royal Infirmary was “stretched beyond capacity” over the Easter break, but a new performance report has also highlighted the strain on services across the board.

NHS Dumfries and Galloway’s latest performance report confirms that, as of March 20 this year, 220 people in the region had been waiting more than a year for treatment – and that this was rising by about four people per week.

At the same time, the number of people on the waiting list for an outpatient appointment was 11,477. Three of those people have been waiting over 18 months, and 87 have been waiting for word for over 12 months.

Some cancer patients are also being failed due to the health system cracking under the pressure, according to latest data for February this year.

Those with a firm diagnosis should wait no longer than 31 days for their first treatment, and when the disease is first suspected, individuals should have a confirmed diagnosis and start treatment within 62 days.

In her report produced for the health board meeting, Julie White, chief operating officer, wrote: “Cancer waiting times were met for 100 percent of the 31 day standard and 86 percent of the 62 day standard.

“The longer 62 day waiting time standard not being met relates to four people: two for colorectal, one for urological treatment and one for lung treatment.

“The longest wait was 145 days.”

She added: “In the year March 22–February 23, 15 people have experienced delays against the 31 day standard; 90 people have experienced delays against the 62 day standard.”

In February this year, the A&E department activity was 3339 attendances – lower than the predicted level of 3508. Still, the four-hour waiting standard was met only 80 per cent of the time against the winter target of 87 percent.

A new target to eliminate emergency department waits over 12 hours has been introduced.

However, 49 people waited longer than 12 hours for the end of their emergency department attendance. The longest wait for treatment and a resolution was 24 hours, 45 minutes.

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