Patients are waiting less time for their vital diagnostic tests at Walsall Manor Hospital compared to those in other parts of the country thanks to “significant efforts” being made by its teams.
Data published yesterday (Thursday 15 April) by NHS England shows Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust is the second best general acute trust in the country for its diagnostic waiting times. It was the fourth best in the country in January and in February came extremely close to the constitutional standard of less than 1% of patients waiting more than six weeks, compared to more than 28% of patients waiting more than six weeks nationally.
Ned Hobbs, Walsall Healthcare’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “We know early diagnosis of conditions such as cancer improves survival rates and any delays in diagnostic testing will impact the length of time patients wait to start treatment.
“Our teams are committed to providing good quality patient care and have been operating in extremely challenging circumstances during the Covid-19 pandemic. They have put in significant effort to deliver improvements to the Diagnostic (DM01) 6-week waiting time performance that is monitored by NHS England each month and deserve recognition for this achievement. Nationally, more than one in four patients are waiting in excess of six weeks for their diagnostic test following referral and this can be even longer in the case of those waiting for some procedures such as a colonoscopy for example.
“In Walsall, at the end of February we had every single Radiology scan being booked within six weeks, and many within less than four weeks and this is a testament to the Imaging team’s efforts to triage scan requests and the sheer hard work of running additional scanning lists to drive down those waiting times.
“To have less than 2% of our patients waiting over six weeks for an Endoscopy test is also a tremendous achievement given the constraints on productivity in the Endoscopy unit over the last year as a result of important Covid-19 Infection Prevention and Control procedures. “
Ned also highlighted the work within the trust’s Clinical Measurement Unit (CMU) specialties – Cardiac Physiology, Neurophysiology and Respiratory Physiology – where teams have worked extremely hard to reduce waiting times to ensure patients are getting good access to important tests. Audiology has also demonstrated real progress in reducing long waiting patients too.
He added: “Throughout the pandemic we have always understood the critical importance of diagnostic services, given that we know delays in elective diagnosis can result in worse outcomes for patients, and that new cancer access standards have a renewed focus on timely diagnosis – one of the most crucial determinants of cancer survival.
“We still have some work to do to ensure all tests are being offered in a timely manner, and in particular that Cystoscopy tests are being provided more quickly than they are currently so we won’t be resting on our laurels, but everyone involved in delivering Diagnostic services should be proud of these improvements.”
Yesterday’s data also shows Walsall Healthcare is 14th best (of 113 reporting trusts) in the country for meeting the four hour Emergency Access Standard and in the top 50 for 18-week Referral To Treatment and 62-day GP referral to cancer treatment wait times.