Waiting times for NHS patients recorded 'incorrectly’
Published on 23 January 2014 02:00 PM
Certain hospitals are failing to accurately monitor how long thousands of their patients are left waiting for treatment.
A new report by the National Audit Office (NAO) reveals that a number of trusts in England are 'mis-recording' data. Some are claiming patients waited less time than they actually did for treatment, while others say they waited longer.
Patients should be seen within 18 weeks of referral
NHS targets stipulate that 90% of admitted hospital patients must start their treatment within 18 weeks.
Of those patients who do not need admitting to hospital, 95% should be seen within 18 weeks of referral by their GP.
North West London Hospitals NHS Trust failed to properly record waiting times of 2,700 patients
The NAO report reviewed 650 orthopaedic patient waiting times across seven hospital trusts - of which more than half turned out to be unsupported by documented evidence or were incorrectly recorded.
Waiting times were correctly recorded and supported by documented evidence in 281 cases. There were, however, 202 cases in which waiting times were simply not supported by enough evidence to say whether they had been correctly recorded.
There was also evidence of at least one error leading to under and over-recording of waiting times in a further 167 cases.
Waiting times ‘steadily increasing'
Mis-recording of data was identified at The North West London, Barnet and Chase Farm and Colchester hospital trusts.
The North West London Hospitals NHS Trust failed to properly record the waiting times of 2,700 of its elective inpatients, including 12 who had waited more than 52 weeks for treatment.
Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust failed to monitor more than 2,000 patients on its waiting list, 651 of which had waited between 18 and 51 weeks.
At Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, meanwhile, police are already investigating allegations that cancer waiting times were deliberately falsified.
'There was an overall under-recording of three weeks (mean) per patient,' stated the report.
‘Rising' challenge of meeting targets
'Nationally, the figures for individual trusts show that some do breach the standard. In 2012/13, for example, 58 trusts breached the standard, overall, in at least one month for patients admitted to hospital.'
The NAO concluded that the typical waiting time for patients receiving treatment is steadily increasing, while the challenge of meeting the 18-week target is also rising due to issues such as financial pressures.
Copyright Press Association 2014