Norfolk hospital waiting lists close to 100,000 people

More than 97,000 patients are waiting for treatment in Norfolk.

More than 97,000 patients are waiting for treatment in Norfolk. - Credit: Brittany Woodman/Sonya Duncan

The number of people waiting for treatment in Norfolk has reached almost 100,000 as health bosses look to "accelerate" post-Covid recovery.

As of May 9, the waiting list grew to 97,349, with more than 13,000 patients waiting more than a year as a result of the pandemic. 

Dr Hilary Byrne, from Norfolk and Waveney CCG, told its board meeting on Tuesday of the work of the Norfolk and Waveney Elective Care Recovery Cell.

She said its elective transformation project was going to be accelerated to tackle the growing list.

This includes commissioning pathways in areas with the longest waiting lists, maximising theatre capacity, and working with GPs to undertake investigations that would have otherwise been carried out by outpatient departments in a way for patients to be seen without needing a referral.

During the first wave, all non-urgent elective surgeries were postponed for three months, and for a further month during the second wave at the start of the year. 

Dr Byrne said: "This obviously had a significant impact on our acute trusts.

"In between these times even when the number of Covid positive patients in acute trusts fell, there was still an ongoing impact and that was really because of a number of factors which included wards which were designated for Covid positive patients couldn't be used for elective patients at the same time."

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The cell's aim is to maximise capacity for services, including looking at ways to reduce hospital referrals.

"Not adding to the waiting list is a key priority," she said. 

Rob Bennett, board member, said: "You start to see the recovery in April compared with the very difficult days of February and March.

"I was encouraged to see the activity levels coming back across the board as soon as the situation started to improve."

Dr Byrne said a number of procedures were restricted due to the potential risk of infections including walk-in services for chest X-ray, steroid-guide joint injections and a significant proportion of endoscopies.