KGH say they have put a number of measures in place after an investigation revealed more than 100 patients were affected by data quality issues.
The issues were first raised by hospital governor David Phelan in 2015 after the number of patients waiting for more than 52 weeks for treatments jumped from eight to 25,000. A year later that had reduced to 413.
Mr Phelan, who was working as an associate general manager at the time the issue came to light and blew the whistle on the trust, says the hospital ‘fiddled with figures’ to reduce the waiting lists and avoid fines - although KGH say they ‘strongly refute’ the claim.
The hospital says that the issues were down to problems with their RTT reporting system and staff competency, and that they have carried out a full review of waiting list data.
Kettering General Hospital’s chief operating officer Rebecca Brown said: “I want to reassure our patients that throughout this period - in the vast majority of cases – patients’ treatment pathways have progressed as normal .
“However the intensive review of our waiting list data and systems has found, as of May 21, 2017, 282 patients who have waited more than a year (52 weeks) to be seen.
“This is unacceptable and we profoundly regret that these cases were not seen appropriately much earlier.
“We believe that all of the patients affected by long waits have now been identified.
“Plans are already in place to ensure they all receive appropriate care within the next eight weeks.”
The probe by KGH found that there were two cases of moderate harm and 136 cases of low harm as a result of the waiting times.
For people experiencing low harm it means that their symptoms have continued for longer and that they have needed a modest increase in their medication to help manage them.
For people experiencing moderate harm it means that their symptoms have worsened and their clinical condition deteriorated for which an increase in medication has been needed.
The hospital suspended reporting of their waiting list data to the Department of Health in December 2015 when they became aware of some anomalies which suggested there could be some issues with their systems.
Following the identification of these issues the trust commissioned a number of independent reviews, sought advice from external experts in this field and took appropriate action to address the situation as quickly as possible.
This involved establishing a detailed action plan to address the relevant issues and putting appropriate resources in place to carry out the validation of records as quickly as possible.
The internal work programme involved:
- Reviewing all of the trust’s waiting time data so that they could be sure that they had identified any patients who have waited longer than they should have
- Improving IT systems and internal procedures with a programme of staff training and establishing some new ways of working
- Appropriately reviewing and expediting the treatment of any patients who had been found to have waited excessively
- Putting on additional clinics and operating sessions to ensure that people were treated in the right order and quickly
Mrs Brown said: “At the moment 73 per cent of our patients are seen within 18 weeks compared to the national target of 92 per cent.
“Like many other NHS Trusts we are working hard to bring waiting times down to the 18 week target and that includes putting on additional clinics and operating sessions.
“We aim to achieve the 92 per cent target by April 2018.”