‘More needs to be done to address HSC waiting lists’

HEALTH & Social Care needs to do more to address waiting lists for operations, a former committee member has said

Deputy Rob Prow. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 31764548)
Deputy Rob Prow. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 31764548)

Rob Prow submitted written questions to the department, one of which asked for details of HSC’s £7.8m. four-year action plan, referenced in the Government Work Plan, to reduce backlogs and waiting times.

He said his questions were designed to generate focus on core issues which he believed the committee needed to address, but he was 'underwhelmed' by the response.

As a former member of the committee, he said he appreciated that its mandate was a difficult and challenging one.

‘I would like to emphasise this and that I fully support the president of that committee,’ he said.

But he said that the answers only raised more questions and he planned to meet other concerned deputies soon to look at how to follow these up. He had also been invited to meet HSC to talk about the challenges.

HSC has launched two initiatives to help address waiting times – the new de Havilland Ward at the PEH and extending the hours of the day patient unit – but Deputy Prow said it did not fully address or outline any plan to reduce the ‘concerning levels of backlogs’.

‘I believe most islanders understand the difficulties outlined in the responses, but really want to understand what more can and will be done, especially where Government Work Plan funding is available,’ said Deputy Prow.

‘However, this response seems to indicate there is in fact no plan and no target set to accomplish a reduction, despite HSC’s £7.8m. GWP funding aimed at alleviating the situation.

‘The answer seems to ignore the question as to what the backlog reduction policy might be for 2023, 2024 and 2025.’

Deputy Prow said there seemed to be ‘no ambition or drive to get to grips with the backlog’.

And there was no detail about what was being done about developing a response to the issue in partnership with the Medical Specialist Group – or any other commissioned services – other than saying they were working closely together.

The committee said this work was affected by issues including recruitment challenges.

Waiting lists were severely impacted by the Covid lockdowns and have never really recovered.

HSC has also admitted that its staffing is not necessarily at a level designed to tackle backlogs.

Deputy Prow also asked about its apparent policy of discouraging doctors from telling patients about other treatment options that might be available.

HSC responded that it did not do this, but ‘it responsibly discourages staff from falsely raising expectations that contract patients will have access to treatments that are not currently funded by the States of Guernsey’.

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