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Weekend operations, private treatments and a third MRI scanner are just some of the actions being mooted at St Mary’s Hospital to help catch up with the backlog caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the Island’s only hospital tries to recover from the effects of coronavirus, some services are getting a boost.

Solutions are being introduced to help the Isle of Wight NHS Trust after some services stopped and ‘significant delays’ for treatments caused waiting lists to get longer.

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Speaking at a meeting of the Isle of Wight Council’s health and social care scrutiny committee, Clare Gowland, deputy chief operating officer for the trust, laid out how the trust aims to recover.

She said:

“The most important thing is that we communicate with our patients — we make sure they understand they have not been forgotten, what the options are and the timescales involved.”

Patients waiting for procedures have been prioritised in clinical order with some Island residents being offered private treatment on the mainland.

Some of the actions will help provide additional capacity — extending theatre days and potentially bringing in clinical teams to operate over the weekend.

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New equipment is also being considered — a third MRI scanner, hopefully available by January 2021, and a third CT scanner, potentially available in November this year. Both would clear the backlog by March 2021.

Staffing challenges in the endoscopy unit mean the trust is looking at bringing a company in, using the hospital’s facilities to manage the waiting times.

Despite these steps, a number need financial approval and are being considered, which led Cllr Andrew Garratt, a member of the scrutiny committee, to ask if there was a Plan B, should funding not be available.

However, bosses have said they are prepared to have ‘difficult conversations’ with regulators should they not get the money needed — as the trust remains in financial special measures.

At the start of the pandemic, NHS Trusts were told by the government and NHS England to do whatever was necessary to help them cope.

By the end of July 2020, the trust had incurred £8.4 million of ‘reasonable costs’, which had all been claimed back for reimbursement. All of the trust’s Covid costs have, so far, been recovered.

Darren Cattell, director of the trust’s finances, said the trust’s board was unanimous that the ‘patient comes first’. He said:

“We decided we would need to invest that money and potentially have a difficult conversation with our regulators about the financial impact of that as opposed to the worry of not being able to theat our patients.”

Maggie Oldham, trust chief executive, said the actions are all the right things for the community but they are being upfront and transparent about the risk it may incur. She said:

“Undoubtedly if we do not get financial support from our regulators we will have to carry some of the costs ourselves.”

It was agreed by the council’s health scrutiny committee that if it was needed, a letter would be given to the trust’s regulator supporting the actions taken and the costs sustained.

The views/opinions expressed in these comments are solely those of the author and do not represent those of Island Echo. House rules on commenting must be followed at all times.
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4 months ago

they won’t have time to do anything, not while the biggest ever DNA collection scheme, known as covid testing is underway

Terry Payne
Terry Payne
4 months ago

My wife is waiting for a hip operation and about 4 weeks ago was told by the surgeon she was on priority list, well I have just read we should be getting a letter with a list of time scales, that would be great, at the moment we are in the dark !

4 months ago

Operations and treatments should be done at weekends anyway, it’s a 24hr emergency service not Mon to Fri office hrs !

Reply to  Despondant
4 months ago

most ops and treatments are not emergencies – where are all the extra staff going to come from then to provide this round the clock service. I am not paying any more tax ..when the NHS is rinsed daily by liars, cheats and hypochondriacs who are just looking for a sick note.
if you got rid of all the liars then the NHS would be able to perform all ops and treatments without many waiting lists or queues.

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