As the number of patients waiting for surgery continues to grow, nationally and in southwest England, Healthwatch Somerset is asking people about their experiences of being referred for surgery in Somerset and how they have been affected by waiting times.
At the end of May 2021, 4,806 patients in Somerset had been waiting 40 or more weeks for non-urgent treatment (NHS Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group). The current NHS waiting time target is a maximum of 18 weeks from referral to treatment. Since March 2020, many routine and specialist treatments have had to be cancelled or rearranged due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and this has affected waiting times for surgery.
Healthwatch Somerset is gathering patient feedback to highlight how the length of time waiting for treatment impacts on people’s health and well-being, and to identify how hospital providers and commissioners could improve patients’ experience as they wait.
They will share their findings and recommendations with Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, Yeovil District Hospital, and Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, who have asked Healthwatch Somerset to help them understand more about the patients’ point of view.
Tanya Camberwell, Healthwatch Somerset Engagement Officer, explained why they want people to share their experiences: "While we recognise the exceptional efforts of NHS staff who continue to treat patients while also managing the challenges of the pandemic, we also know that waiting for surgery can have an impact on people’s daily life. It can affect independence, work, and personal relationships, as well as mental or physical health. We will use the patient feedback that we gather to raise awareness of people’s wider health and care needs while they are waiting for surgery, and to inform and help influence the management of NHS waiting lists."
Matthew Bryant, Chief Operating Officer (Acute Services) at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust and Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We know that many of our patients are currently waiting longer than we would like them to. Although we work with our clinicians to check that these patients are not coming to clinical harm, the emotional and social impacts of being on long waiting lists is less well understood and we welcome Healthwatch’s support in helping us to understand this and support our patients where we can."
If you or someone you know is on a waiting list for surgery in Somerset, or you recently had to wait for surgery, Healthwatch Somerset would like to hear about your experiences. It’s easy to share your feedback and your comments can remain anonymous.
- You can complete a short online survey by 6 September 2021: www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/RFT-HWS/
- You can contact Healthwatch Somerset to arrange a convenient time to feedback over the phone - call Freephone 0800 999 1286 or email: email@example.com
In addition to the public survey, Healthwatch Somerset has been working with Somerset NHS Foundation Trust Hospital and Yeovil District Hospital to reach and interview patients who are on the waiting list for surgery in Somerset’s hospitals.
Find out more about Healthwatch Somerset and this project by visiting: healthwatchsomerset.co.uk/project/nhs-waiting-times/.