Leeds NHS patients sent private due to tests backlog

Wharfedale Hospital, Otley.
Wharfedale Hospital, Otley.
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A BACKLOG of hundreds of patients waiting for endoscopy procedures has built up at Leeds hospitals.

The closure of a decontamination unit and staff shortages have contributed to the problems over the tests, where a tube with a video camera is inserted into the body to check for signs of illness.

This month, over 300 patients will have been waiting more than six weeks.

Now £170,000 is being spent on sending those in the backlog to be treated by private providers.

A report to hospital bosses said: “Timely delivery of diagnostic endoscopy services has been a long-standing issue for the trust, with current performance compromising the delivery of high quality patient care and affecting the reputation of the organisation.”

Leeds Teaching Hospitals provides endoscopy services from Leeds General Infirmary, St James’s Hospital and Wharfedale General Hospital in Otley.

Around 18,000 procedures were carried out in 2013/14, with most being scheduled rather than emergencies.

However demand from Leeds patients for the tests has risen by almost a third since February, while capacity has been reduced because of various issues – including the closure of the decontamination unit at Wharfedale Hospital in Otley.

“This was due to patient safety concerns around care of infection issues,” the report said.

Mark Smith, chief operating officer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, told a meeting of hospital directors that a new decontamination unit had been bought and was being tested.

Staffing issues included sickness absence and recruitment problems which led to shortages and cut the number of procedures which could be done.

Mr Smith added that some of the vacancies had now been filled, an action plan was in place and patients were being sent to independent sector providers to cut the backlog.

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