Health Trust's annual report shows big leap in waiting times, delays in cancer treatment and failure to hit targets

By Nub News Reporter

27th Sep 2022 | Local News

Read all about it. What the Trust achieved - or didn't - last year.
Read all about it. What the Trust achieved - or didn't - last year.

IN the past year the waiting list for treatment at hospitals, including Basildon and Thurrock Hospital, run by the Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust has grown by more than 14,000.

That is revealed in the Trust's latest accounts, published after the Trust's annual members' meeting  at the Education Centre in Southend Hospital.

Members were invited to attend a 'marketplace' event ahead of the formal meeting, where they could visit stalls and find out about some of the services provided at the Trust, meet partner organisations, and talk to the Trust chair, board members and governors.

At the formal meeting, members heard from Trust chair Nigel Beverley, acting chief executive Hannah Coffey, and lead governor Sally Holland about the performance of the Trust over the past year. 

The report, which can be read in full via this link, says the Trust came had to cope with 'significant demand' to find additional capacity to treat the most urgent patients.

It adds: "This was against the backdrop of higher staffing sickness and implementing the necessary infection prevention and control guidelines to manage covid-19.

"In order to mitigate the capacity constraints, the Trust made extensive use of outsourcing to independent sector providers to ensure patients received surgery.

"The Trust also utilised insourcing; where medical/procedures were subcontracted to an external supplier and the supplier used the Trust's premises and equipment to deliver the service.

"There were two peaks in the number of occupied beds due to covid-19. These were on 6 January 2022 with 263 covid-19 occupied beds and 22 March 2022 with 310 covid-19 occupied beds.

"All hospital sites had to flex covid-19 capacity to meet the fluctuations in demand to protect elective and cancer ward capacity.

"We saw a decrease in the number of covid-19 positive admissions towards the end of the financial year.

"The Trust has invested in the Gooroo Planner and Patient Pathway Plus data management systems. "This was an essential process in order to recover the backlog through the automation of strict operational scheduling and the booking of patients by priority and then chronology.

"Furthermore, it gives services an overview of demand and capacity mismatches to enable the appropriate corrective action to be taken.

"As part of the Trust's plan, capacity for cancer and clinically urgent patients has been protected to ensure services are delivered in accordance with national clinical prioritisation guidance. Our outpatients transformation programme is a key programme to improve services for our patients.

"The programme has focussed on improving access to services for patients and increasing the availability of virtual appointments. The Trust has also implemented patient initiated follow ups to give patients and their carers the flexibility to arrange their follow-up appointments as and when they need them."

The report also details results of inspections by the Care Quality Commission.

The Trust received an unannounced CQC inspection of core services in July and August 2021, followed by a Well-Led inspection in September 2021.

The Trust was rated requires improvement overall, with a rating of 'good' for the effective and caring domains and 'requires improvement' for the safe, responsive and well-led domains.

The rating for maternity services at Basildon Hospital improved from 'inadequate' to 'requires improvement'.

The Trust failed to meet any of its nine 'constitutional' standards, including significant delays for those requiring cancer treatment.

The total cost of operating the trust was £1.4 billion, around £4.5m down on the previous year. The single biggest cost was staff and executive directors' costs, which at £849.5 million was more than £46m up year-on-year.

The report gives no breakdown of staff or directors' costs.

Two months after the Trust's financial and reporting year ended in March, its chief executive, Clare Panniker - who was the architect of the mergers that brought the region's three main hospitals together and who supported centralisation of services and manged such projects as the planned closure of Orsett Hospital  - left the trust to take on the job of new NHS Regional director for the east of England.

Leaving, she said: "It has without question been a challenging time for the NHS over the last few years and it has been a real privilege working with my colleagues at Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust.

"Having created the new Trust, and then navigated the significant impact of covid-19 as one of the largest Trusts in the country, the time is right for me to take on a new challenge and I am keen to deliver on key priorities for the NHS including those in routine care, cancer, mental health, primary care and many more.

"I have worked in Essex for ten years, and the role of regional director offers a unique opportunity to help develop our integrated care systems and to focus on how we can improve the provision of healthcare and outcomes for the region.

"As part of NHS England's national executive team I look forward to influencing future policy and strategy for the East of England."

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