Getting a healthcare appointment as the pandemic continues – June 2022 update

You may have heard a lot in the news about the various difficulties patients face in getting appointments or progress on their health and care management. Read more about the situation locally.

There have been some news reports focusing on difficulties patients have had in getting health and care appointments. There are also reports about how staff in health and care are facing a very difficult challenge to meet demand as they catch-up after the pandemic delayed a lot of appointments throughout health and care. Many people have told us that they worry about waiting lists, some think they should perhaps not ‘bother’ the NHS and others have told us that waiting for treatment can be frustrating and it has an impact on their mental health and wellbeing.

Despite the challenges in our current situation it’s still important to make sure you contact your GP or healthcare staff if you have a concern so that they can try to plan your care. If they don’t know there is a problem, they definitely won’t be able to help and often, the earlier a problem can be looked at, the less difficult it is to solve. If you need urgent care, call 111 who will be able to look at what might be available for you. You might also want to look at this information from Healthwatch England.
 
The following is a short summary of what we know is happening locally.

Waiting lists to see a specialists:

At a meeting in June representatives from St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust talked about progress on supporting patients who have been waiting for their treatment. The number of patients waiting over 52 weeks has continued to reduce to 846 in March figures from 938 reported in February. They have continued to carry out planned operations, outpatient appointments and diagnostic testing. You can read more here from page 7. A surgery treatment centre at Queen Mary’s Hospital continues to offer day surgery to patient whose treatment has been delayed by the pandemic and day surgery has been expanded at St Georges Hospital. Routine diagnostic wait times have reduced and 98% of patients are seen within six weeks of having been referred.

According to NHS data up to the end of March, of the patients referred to St George’s Hospital who were waiting to start treatment, half of the patients were waiting less than 9 weeks (to the end of December it was less than 10 weeks) and 92% were waiting less than 34 weeks. A total of 48316 patients were waiting to start treatment.

GP appointments:

Different GP surgeries vary in their approach to managing appointments. Data from NHS Digital for South West London Health NHS shows us that in April 2022 57.5% of appointments in general practices were face to face and 39.7% were over the telephone  (In December 2021 53% of appointments were face to face and 44% were over the telephone). Many patients, particularly those most vulnerable to COVID-19, have said that they prefer the ease of video and phone consultations and there were 713 video or online appointments in South West London in April (in December 2021 it was 1053). Information about how long people are waiting for appointments suggests that 55.1% of appointments happened on the same day as the person tried to book their appointment (it was 47%  in December), 8.7% happened a day after (9% in December), 21.2% happened between 2 and 7 days (21%  in December) and 12.9% happened between 8 and 28 days after the person tried to book (22% in December) (Appointments in General Practice report - NHS Digital.
 
Mental health

If you are waiting for a mental health appointment with Talk Wandsworth, more information about what can help you get started is available here.

Find the most recent waiting times for hospital treatment

There is a website you can use to find out what the current waiting times for hospital care.

Look up the waiting times here.

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