The NHS waiting list in Brighton and Hove went up by almost 900 patients in just one month, according to an official report.
The longer waiting times, in particular for cancer patients and people with mental health problems, are causing concern among health chiefs.
The report, presented at a clinical commissioning group (CCG) this afternoon (Tuesday 8 December), said: “Services continued to see increased delays and waits for treatments.
“This was highlighted by the number of people waiting 52 weeks or more for routine treatments – 4,466 as of the week ending (Sunday) 27 September compared to 3,587 in the previous month’s report.
“Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust (BSUH) accounted for 50 per cent of these.”
BSUH runs the Royal Sussex County Hospital, the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital and the Sussex Eye Hospital, in Brighton, as well as the Princess Royal Hospital, in Haywards Heath.
It serves as a general hospital for the local area but also as a regional specialist treatment centre for a wider area.
And waiting times also came up at the BUSH board meeting last week when a report said: “The waiting list size grew to 38,015 as demand has caught up with supply but remains circa 6,500 less than October 2019.”
More than 2,500 patients had waited longer than a year, according to BSUH figures for October.
The waiting list figures that emerged today were contained in a report to a virtual meeting of the Brighton and Hove CCG governing body.
A report from the governing body’s Quality Committee said: “The committee discussed the common themes around poor patient experience in several areas including ophthalmology and cancer long waiting times.
“The committee felt there needed to be an enhanced level of communication with the patients affected to know how this was being addressed and managed.
“The committee noted the magnitude of long cancer waits, acknowledging it was not just about the patient experience but the patient outcomes.
“One of the key mitigations for quality, patient safety and experience was the critical review process that had been put in place across the system and incorporated elements of identifying any harm from the clinical review process.
“There was a risk of long waits for people awaiting a mental health bed with acute providers.
“No subsequent harm had been reported as a result of the delays.
“However, both long waits and individuals subject to being placed out of the area increased the risk of poor patient experience.
“There had been a system-wide response with Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SPFT) securing additional capacity in the independent sector to reduce current pressure and demand for
mental health beds in the system.
“The Committee discussed the flu plan and noted the annual issue on stock distribution for GP practices that had been exacerbated this year due to other factors including covid-19, thereby increasing workloads further.
“It was felt the complexities and issues of the flu programme for primary care at ground level needed to be better reflected in the reporting and there needed to be enhanced planning for next year across the system.”