Home   Bury St Edmunds   News   Article

Bury St Edmunds' West Suffolk Hospital reports 1,500 patients waited 52 weeks for appointments




Nearly 1,500 patients have waited longer than 52 weeks for some appointments at West Suffolk Hospital as a result of coronavirus pressure.

The data was revealed at a subdued annual general meeting this week that reflected on a ‘very tough year’ for the Bury St Edmunds infirmary.

Steve Dunn, trust chief executive, said he was ‘genuinely sorry’ for how only 51 per cent of patients are now seen within 18 weeks. It had been 85 per cent before the pandemic.

Steve Dunn at work inside West Suffolk Hospital
Steve Dunn at work inside West Suffolk Hospital

“It all means waiting times are likely to get longer, the times have significantly increased,” he said in the meeting, which was held online.

“I want you to be rest assured we are doing all we can to treat people as quickly as possible and make sure nobody comes to harm while they wait for our care.”

The pandemic has fallen on top of what had already been a testing year, which also saw the trust receive a ‘requires improvement’ rating from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

West Suffolk has also been dogged with allegations about its management culture, with staff having complained that whistleblowing was suppressed.

Dr Dunn said: “The CQC rating was a massive disappointment for us all.

“I would like to sincerely apologise for the shortcomings in this report. I am sorry we did not meet expectations and you have my commitment to deliver a sustained improvement.

“It is important to remember that 80 per cent of our result areas are good or outstanding and the recent staff survey highlights staff are proud to work here.

“The foundations for rebuilding are strong.”

Top team: Nick Jenkins, medical director at West Suffolk, Sir David Behan, former CQC chief executive, Sheila Childerhouse, West Suffolk Hospital chairman, and Stephen Dunn, chief executive
Top team: Nick Jenkins, medical director at West Suffolk, Sir David Behan, former CQC chief executive, Sheila Childerhouse, West Suffolk Hospital chairman, and Stephen Dunn, chief executive

The CQC raised attention to below-par performance in four areas; waiting times, maternity services, ‘missing some of the basics’, and culture.

The latter has been a key issue, with the Royal College of Anaesthetists removing the trust from its voluntary list of accredited hospitals , partly over concerns over ‘management culture’.

“Clearly in some areas our staff are not feeling as supported as they should be and we must put that right,” Dr Dunn said.

“We have addressed the things we can. It will take time to foster a speak-up culture.”

The Covid-19 response was a large part of the meeting, with 83 patients within the trust having died from the virus.

The trust is also battling financial challenges, but was able to break even for 2019-20.

“There is a lot to rebuild moving forward, we recognise that and a lot of that work has already begun.

Trust chairman Sheila Childerhouse said: “It has been a very tough year. We have not always performed in the way you or our communities expect or deserve.

“There is a lot to rebuild moving forward, we recognise that and a lot of that work has already begun.

“Covid-19 has come along and it has changed all of our lives in a short time.

“What has really impressed me is the way the NHS has responded to it, the compassion, commitment and the flexibility… it has been really quite awesome.”

She added: “What is exciting now is working with you on how we design what health provision might look like in the future.”

To keep up-to-date with all the latest developments with your local hospitals and other health stories, click here