Support needed for over 85,000 people waiting for hospital care

Over 85,000 people are waiting for hospital care in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Over 85,000 people are waiting for hospital care in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. (stock image) - Credit: Peter Byrne / PA

More than 85,000 people are waiting for hospital or community care in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, with one in 20 waiting over a year according to the latest NHS data. 

They say they need more information and support to help them manage waiting for the hospital care they need.

Healthwatch Cambridgeshire has found that people’s experiences on the waiting list are affected by the uncertainty over how long they will wait as well as managing their health whilst waiting. 

Cancelled procedures are one of the most significant issues reported by patients. 

One in five individuals who shared their experience in a recent survey had a procedure cancelled at least once, with one in 10 cancelled more than once. 

Healthwatch also found that 71% were not given any information to manage their condition whilst they were waiting.  

One Cambridgeshire patient said: “An appointment to be seen by ENT and to have a camera check on my nose and throat was cancelled approximately six times in the last year and I’m still waiting to be seen.” 

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Another said: “I was diagnosed in March 2020 and offered a hip replacement. I’ve now been waiting 18 months. 

“I asked the hospital if I could be considered for re assessment of my condition and they just said they were only seeing patients who have been on their list for 98 weeks or more."

Following the survey, the NHS has set up a new patient helpdesk to support people waiting for care. 

Healthwatch Cambridgeshire chief executive, Sandie Smith, welcomed the new helpdesk. 

“The scale of the care backlog is huge, and people have sometimes been left in limbo, struggling to live with a health problem and the uncertainty of knowing when they will be treated,” she said. 

“The new patient helpdesk will keep people better informed about how long they will have to wait for hospital or community care and know how to keep safe whilst waiting."

The helpdesk is currently only funded until the end of March, but Healthwatch is calling for it to be extended as long as it is needed. 

Healthwatch Cambridgeshire is keen to hear from more people about their experience of waiting for care. 

You can give feedback via their website.