The Chief Executive of BHRUT explained that the Trust had been working hard to return elective care to pre-pandemic levels. The focus had been on long waits for treatment and the numbers of patients waiting in excess of two years for treatment was now in single figures. The focus was now on patients with 52 or 78 week waits for treatment.
The number of referrals for treatment continued to rise and there was also increased pressure on GPs. As regards unplanned care, there was a lot of pressure on A & E and efforts were made not to have long ambulance waits. The Trust had coped well with the recent wildfires.
Weekends were currently very busy at A & E and there had been a rise in the numbers of A & E patients exhibiting mental health problems which also impacted on waiting times at the department.
The Chair in Common for BHRUT and Barts Health explained that a new Chief Executive (Shane Dugarris) had been recruited for both Trusts. Matthew Trainer would remain Chief Operating Officer for BHRUT as well as Deputy Chief Executive for both Trusts. It was felt this would create a strong voice for acute care providers across North East London. It was clarified that the two Trusts would continue as separate organisations representing their local communities.
As regards primary care in the sector, 14% more appointments had been provided than in the previous winter. Evening and Saturday appointments were provided by GP practice networks. A recent survey of the views of North East London residents on primary care had received a large response.
A Covid booster and Flu vaccine programme would be launched in the autumn. This would include vaccines being available from primary care settings, community pharmacies and shopping centres.
The impact of the changes to Continuing Healthcare on each borough was currently being considered. The level of service would be the same across all boroughs.
The programme director for Community Diagnostic Centres explained that these facilities were designed to increase patient access to diagnostics. Consultation was currently ongoing on the first two centres at Barking and Mile End Hospitals. It was clarified that neither site was fully operational as yet. Funding had been approved for the building work at both sites. Total funding of £39m plus revenue costs had been secured over the next three years. The two centres would be fully open in late 2023.
It was hoped to improve people’s access to planned care as soon as possible and an update could be brought to the JHOSC in late autumn. An additional investment fund was available which had received bids for e.g. the expansion of theatres at King George Hospital.
It was accepted that London Ambulance Service had a very challenging position. BHRUT aimed to complete patient handovers from ambulances as quickly as possible. Assessment of patients was also sometimes carried out in ambulances.
Data on the number of Monkeypox vaccines administered so far could be supplied. The cohort most likely to be affected has been offered the vaccine at acute sites in North East London, avoiding the need to travel elsewhere.
A sustainability plan was in place across the partnership. The recent heatwave had seen a rise in A & E of cases of older people falling after becoming dehydrated. Some areas of the hospital were air conditioned but it was accepted that the wards in King George Hospital were very hot. The Trust was seeking to mitigate the impact of extreme weather in the longer term.
On workforce issues, there had been successful recent recruitment in radiology. A radiology academy would open at King George Hospital shortly which it was felt would assist with the retention of radiographers. The establishment of new roles for support staff would maximise skills and allow more flexibility of the workforce.
The Committee noted the position and the additional information that was to be provided.