Shock at scale of inaccuracies at Leeds health trust

Wharfedale Observer: Councillor Sandy Lay Councillor Sandy Lay

An Otley & Yeadon councillor is calling for health chiefs in Leeds to explain inaccuracies in waiting time figures.

The National Audit Office investigated 650 cases in seven NHS Trusts across the country, including Leeds Teaching Hospitals, and found that in 167 instances the recorded waiting times were incorrect.

More than a third of the errors took place in Leeds, and Councillor Sandy Lay (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon), is urging the trust to say why.

He said: “The problem is that reports like these do enormous damage to the reputation, credibility and morale of Leeds Teaching Hospitals and this sort of management failure undermines all the good work that I know the staff do.

“I’m also very concerned that out of all the Trusts investigated, Leeds was one of only two which did not have its chief executive or his deputy overseeing the referral data.

“I know from my own experience, when my father-in-law was referred to Leeds and his referral was ‘lost’, that the system in place for recording and monitoring referrals is poor, but I never expected it to be quite so widespread.

“Of the 95 cases reviewed by the National Audit Office it appears only 12 were correct.

“This means that a whopping 87 per cent of cases reviewed in Leeds were wrong or incomplete.

“All patients and GPs have a right to expect that an organisation as large as the Trust should have the right systems in place to ensure the referral process works every time for everybody.”

He added that he would be also be asking Leeds City Council’s Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Board, of which he is a member, to launch its own inquiry into the statistics.

A spokesman for Leeds Teaching Hospitals said: “We fully support the right of patients to be seen within 18 weeks of referral.

“Overall at Leeds our backlog of patients waiting longer than this is dropping and fewer people are waiting now than at this time last year.

“The figures in this report relate to orthopaedic patients whose care starts in the community.

“The issue identified by the NAO is that an incorrect start time has been recorded which did not include the first stage of the pathway (in the community).

“We have now rectified this recording error and are making sure it cannot happen again.

“This is an area in which waiting time ‘clock starts’ are recorded very differently to those in the rest of the Trust.

“We are confident this error is not repeated and that we are improving waiting times.”

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