Report lays bare continuing impact on community healthcare in Leeds

The continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on community healthcare in Leeds can be seen in new figures released by a city health trust.

Friday, 28th May 2021, 4:45 am

Documents published in a report to today's (Friday) board meeting of the Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust show a total of 288 patients have been waiting more than 18 weeks for treatment from consultant-led departments.

The Trust, which provides health services within communities across Leeds, reported 83 per cent of patients were still waiting for treatment after 18 weeks, below its target of over 92 per cent.

Of the 288 patients currently waiting, most related to gynaecology, with 92 on the waiting list longer than 18 weeks, representing 89.3 per cent of the department’s patients.

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The Trust also reported just 39.2 per cent of patients in April had waited less than six weeks for a diagnostic test - far below the target of over 99 per cent.

However, no patients had waited longer than 52 weeks and the Trust performed better than target levels for the percentage of people beginning treatment within both 18 weeks and six weeks of referral for psychological therapies.

A report to the Trust’s board meeting this Friday said: “Robust waiting list assurance work has been completed for all services with a waiting list,” adding: “There is assurance that all people waiting have been appropriately prioritised and reviewed regularly.”

The board papers also showed staff in neighbourhood healthcare teams dealt with 36 per cent more deaths among their patients over the past 12 months than pre-pandemic.

Figures, in the annual mortality report, show the “sustained impact” of Covid-19 on the team’s caseloads, with 1,822 expected deaths 2020/2021 compared to 1,319 the previous year. Unexpected deaths also rose from 227 to 257.

The report said, prior to the pandemic, the higher proportion of deaths occurred in neighbourhood team caseloads for Middleton and Seacroft areas, but during 2020/21, the greatest increase in deaths was in areas including Meanwood, Seacroft, Wetherby and Yeadon.

The report noted some of these areas tallied up with higher Covid-19 mortality rates, according to ONS data, such as Seacroft, Wetherby and Meanwood, but others did not - with areas such as Yeadon and Woodlsey having seen relatively low Covid-19 mortality rates.

Also Middleton, which according to ONS data had high Covid-19 mortality rates, saw a relatively small increase in neighbourhood team deaths.

The report suggested the reasons behind the data may lie in issues such as deprivation.

But it said: “It has not been possible to obtain details of neighbourhood team mortality data by social deprivation or ethnicity in time for the submission but this is anticipated to further understand the differential impact seen.”

A Trust spokeswoman said a detailed analysis is expected shortly from the public health team within Leeds City Council, and the Trust will review this data again once it is available.

The report also highlighted how more than 80 per cent of patients had been able to die in their preferred place - a figure comparable to the year before the pandemic.

Dr Ruth Burnett, the Trust’s executive medical director, said the percentage of patients choosing to die out of hospital has continued to increase - with nearly half wanting to die at home.

She said: “Our community nurses always aim to provide compassionate care and we have further enhanced our response to meet the increased number of patients and the level of complexity seen with Covid-19.

“I’d like to thank our teams for their passion and commitment in delivering the highest level of care to patients and families during this time.”

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