St George's Hospital Sees Big Fall in Waiting Lists

Increased referrals and more efficient remote working have reduced backlog

Dr Richard Jennings, chief medical officer at St George’s Hospital
Dr Richard Jennings, chief medical officer at St George’s Hospital

The latest figures indicate that St George’s Hospital in Tooting has slashed its patient backlog - but over 1,000 people are still waiting to be treated.

The 52-week backlog at has fallen from a peak of 2,644 in March 2021 to 1,041 as of 21 September.

This is lower than the predicted figure of 1,800 for this time but the trust think over 800 people will still be waiting by the end of the year.

The reduction in waiting times has been down to more referrals and increased efficiency from working remotely as turnaround of patient appointments can be faster.

The trust has also seen Covid patient hospital admissions plateauing with three quarters of people in hospital either having one or no coronavirus vaccination.

As of 21 September, there were 18 Covid patients in the hospital in intensive care and 28 in general and acute beds.

But St George’s said it is now seeing a larger proportion of the over 60s being admitted.

Black people are between two and two-and-a-half times more likely to go to hospital with coronavirus compared to white and Asian people, but having a vaccine “largely disappears the risk”, health bosses say.

Dr Richard Jennings, chief medical officer at St George’s Hospital, told Wandsworth Council’s adult care and health scrutiny committee, “The situation is improving… We have decreased the number of our patients who’ve waited over 52 weeks for treatment.

“The fact that the figures are just over 1,000 I think is a tribute to the enormous amount of work that our staff have been doing to try and catch up with this issue.

“That’s largely because we’re seeing substantial numbers of referrals… After dropping off during the second most dramatic wave of Covid.”

He added: “I think that we’ve benefited from Covid helping us to realise how much we can do non-face-to-face work.

“And the advantage of that often being the patient appreciates that more because they get a more rapid turnaround.

“We have a balance of face-to-face and virtual outpatient work, but I certainly think that we’re more flexible and more agile and more appropriate in the way that we balanced that now than we ever have been in pre Covid times.”

On vaccination, Dr Jennings said, “We do know that vaccine hesitancy is a tractable issue, it’s an issue which does improve and has improved over time and we shouldn’t give up on this.

“I think it’s important that people understand that tragically at the moment there are some people who are getting sick and indeed dying with Covid, who might not have been in that very sad situation, had they had the vaccine.”

Previously, the number of patients waiting over 52 weeks for hospital treatment at Kingston Hospital fell from 227 to 71 between April and July this year.

James Mayer - Local Democracy Reporter

September 24, 2021