Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust: all the key numbers for the NHS Trust in March

Tens of thousands of patients were waiting for routine treatment at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust in March, figures show.

Embargoed to 0001 Monday January 24 File photo dated 03/10/14 of an NHS hospital ward. Health unions are calling for an inflation-busting pay rise to tackle the NHS staffing crisis and increasing waiting times for treatment. Issue date: Monday January 24, 2022.
Embargoed to 0001 Monday January 24 File photo dated 03/10/14 of an NHS hospital ward. Health unions are calling for an inflation-busting pay rise to tackle the NHS staffing crisis and increasing waiting times for treatment. Issue date: Monday January 24, 2022.

Tens of thousands of patients were waiting for routine treatment at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust in March, figures show.

The Society for Acute Medicine said the latest data shows pressure on the NHS nationally is "unsustainable" and needs urgent action from the Government.

Sign up to our BirminghamWorld Today newsletter

NHS England figures show 56,193 patients were waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust at the end of March – down slightly from 56,481 in February, but an increase on 50,178 in March 2021.

Of those, 1,590 (3%) had been waiting for longer than a year.

The median waiting time from referral at an NHS Trust to treatment at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust was 11 weeks at the end of March – down from 12 weeks in February.

Nationally, 6.4 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of March – the highest number since records began in 2007.

But the number of people waiting more than two years has dropped for the second month in a row.

Separate NHS England figures show that a record 24,138 people had to wait more than 12 hours in A&E departments in England in April, from a decision to admit to actually being admitted.

Siva Anandaciva, chief analyst at The King’s Fund think tank, said that unless the Government “grasp the nettle” on health and social care staffing shortages, patients will be left waiting in “discomfort, pain and deteriorating health”.

He added: “The top priority for the NHS is to tackle the longest waits, so it is some comfort to see the number of people waiting over two years for planned care starting to come down.

“This week’s Queen’s Speech identified reducing the backlog of care as one of the Government’s top three priorities.

“But the reality check is that until ministers grasp the nettle on health and care staffing shortages, it will be patients who continue to pay the price by waiting longer in discomfort, pain and deteriorating health.”

Separate figures show 1.6 million patients in England were waiting for a key diagnostic test in March – a rise on 1.5 million in February.

At Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust, 21,134 patients were waiting for one of 13 standard tests, such as an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy at this time.

Of them, 8,635 (41%) had been waiting for at least six weeks.

Dr Tim Cooksley, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: “The latest set of performance data shows that the new “normal” is at an unacceptably poor level for both patients and staff.

“Pressures are at unsustainable levels and, at months where NHS teams hope for a quieter period, worse performance and standards are dominating the horizon."

He added: “This is an emergency which needs recognition, action and support on an urgent basis; it cannot afford to join the waiting list being endured by so many patients.”

Other figures from NHS England show that of 87 patients urgently referred by the NHS who were treated at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust in March, 55 were receiving cancer treatment within two months of their referral.

A month previously – when 77 patients were referred – 49 were treated within 62 days.

In March 2021, 46 patients were treated within this period, out of 65 that were referred.

The Department of Health and Social Care said it has provided a record £36 billion over the next three years for the NHS and social care, and launched a plan to tackle the Covid backlog.

A spokesman added: “We recognise the unprecedented pressure NHS staff are under from the pandemic – especially frontline ambulance workers."