Over 3,300 people have waited at least a year to be treated in Lincolnshire hospitals in February this year, compared to just one in February 2020.
Lincolnshire’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said Lincolnshire was below the national average for its waiting list numbers and every patient was prioritised based on clinical need as opposed to date order.
Most elective surgery was cancelled in the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, with urgent treatment taking place in Grantham Hospital, a ‘green site’ free of COVID-19.
Plans to restore services to Grantham hospital to pre-COVID levels – including the loss of 24/7 urgent care from June – were given the go ahead earlier this month.
In Lincolnshire CCG’s Public Board Meeting on Wednesday morning, Cllr Ray Wooten raised his concerns of the growing 52 week waiting times for patients to be treated in Lincolnshire.
He said: “This must be a distressing time for those patients. What plans have [the CCG] put in place to reduce this number back to a normal level?”
Clair Raybould, Director of Operations at NHS Lincolnshire’s CCG, said: “It’s a really sad situation that we’re in, this is the case right across the country.
“Most elective surgery was cancelled in the first wave, then we started again and then when we had the second wave […] critical care capacity was constrained.”
She added: “Every patient on that waiting list is being looked at as part of a national programme to validate waiting lists, so they’re given a priority code.
“We’ve still got infection prevention control measures in place which reduce our ability to see as many patients as we did before.
“We’ve got workforce fatigue amongst many of our clinicians and we need to give people time to recover before we embark on a very expensive recovery programme.”