Probe into KGH referral times after concerns over IT problems and data inaccuracies

The trust has suspended the reporting of its Referral-to-Treatment (RTT) times pending an investigation into the significant issue by support group NHS Improvement.
The trust has suspended the reporting of its Referral-to-Treatment (RTT) times pending an investigation into the significant issue by support group NHS Improvement.

Patients referred for treatment at Kettering General Hospital may have had to wait for too long – because of data inaccuracies and IT problems.

The hospital’s trust has suspended the reporting of its Referral-to-Treatment (RTT) times pending an investigation into the “significant issue” by support group NHS Improvement.

Concerns were raised after inconsistencies in data were found following a system upgrade last year.

Kettering General Hospital’s chief executive David Sissling says the errors are ‘unacceptable’.

He said: “It is regrettable and unacceptable that some of our patients have waited too long for treatment. We are very sorry for this.

“I want to reassure our patients that in the vast majority of cases their treatment pathways are progressing as normal.

“New referrals to the hospital are also being managed correctly.

“Like many NHS Trusts we are working hard to bring waiting times down.

“That includes putting on additional clinics and operating sessions.

“In addition, it is clearly also vitally important that we can rely on our internal systems to accurately assess waits which is why we have undertaken our improvement programme.”

The number of patients affected by the problem is unknown at this stage.

An internal programme has begun at the hospital in an attempt to vastly improve RTT times.

As part of the programme, there will be a review of the trust’s waiting time data to ensure patients who have waited longer than expected can be identified. This process will continue until October 2016.

Staff will also be trained under improved internal procedures, with treatment of those who have been made to wait excessively to be made available as quickly as possible.

NHS Improvement regional director Frances Shattock said: “We want Kettering General Hospital to be back in a position where it can reduce the time patients wait for treatment and report its RTT times confidently.

“This is our opportunity to see where improvements can be made.

“Like other trusts across the country, Kettering is under pressure to deliver high quality care to an ever increasing number of patients.

“By working closely with the trust we will see how it plans to improve its services in a way that ensures patients are seen in good time.”

KGH was reprimanded by Monitor in 2013 for its failure to meet financial and waiting time targets.

An NHS Improvement spokesman told the Northants Telegraph that while the current data inaccuracies are a significant issue, KGH was not the only trust to have come across such difficulties.

The support group will be looking closely at what plans the trust’s leadership has in place to improve its RTT waiting times, and whether they have the necessary capacity and capability within the organisation to deliver the required changes.

An outcome of the review is expected to be announced in due course.