Inaccurate data regarding waiting times

Posted by Samantha Ward on


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The National Audit Office (NAO) has found that information recorded by NHS Trusts regarding waiting times for such procedures are not accurate, with an overall tendency for delays to be concealed.

Following a review of 650 cases of elective orthopaedic surgery the National Audit Office (NAO) has found that information recorded by NHS Trusts regarding waiting times for such procedures are not accurate, with an overall tendency for delays to be concealed.

Of the 650 cases reviewed it was found that 281 cases were correctly recorded, with supportive evidence.  In 202 cases the recorded waiting times were not supported by enough evidence to determine whether or not they had been correctly recorded, and in 167 cases there was evidence of at least one error, leading to over- or under-reporting of the waiting time of three weeks per patient.

There is a requirement for NHS Trusts to meet government-set targets with regard to waiting times for elective orthopaedic surgery.  This is currently set at 18 weeks from the time of referral. The NAO has concluded that this lack of reliability in accurate reporting, whatever the cause, was detrimental to patients because it 'hampered their ability to make informed choices about where to choose to have their treatments'.  The finding suggests perhaps that the NHS may not actually be meeting its waiting time targets which, the government currently reports are 'low and stable'.

The NAO also makes reference to the recently reported concerns over delays in cancer treatment waiting times at Colchester Hospital. It is worrying that these issues have been highlighted, not only because patients could be being misled, but that there their lives could potentially be being adversely affected by unacceptable waiting times for often life-changing treatments.

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About the Author

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Sam is a Registered Nurse with 17 years' experience working in the NHS. She uses her medical and nursing knowledge and experience to liaise with clients.

Samantha Ward
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