Devon’s health system’s declining performance over last 12 months – and Health Scrutiny still waiting for winter crisis evidence

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Health Scrutiny 25 Jan 18At yesterday’s Health Scrutiny Committee, I presented evidence (at 2:10:45) of an across-the-board decline in performance by Devon’s four NHS trusts against 3 key national targets, over the last 12 months.

Devon’s A&E departments are slipping back against the target of 95 per cent of patients to be seen within 4 hours (as we were meeting the average waiting time in Wonford according to the ironically named NHS Quicker app was 5 hours 13 minutes). The hospitals are slipping back against the target of treating 85 per cent of cancer patients within 62 days of urgent referral by a GP – our trusts average between 75 and 80 per cent and one trust, Northern Devon, is seeing 17 per cent fewer within the target than a year ago . And they are further from meeting the target of carrying out 92 per cent of routine operations within 18 weeks – and this was before ‘elective admissions’ were ‘deprioritised’ (in the language of the report) in January. Similarly, it appeared that the SW Ambulance Service was getting to a smaller proportion of the most urgent calls within target.

My comments were a corrective to an over-optimistic report by the CCGs and the County Councils’ social care team, which stressed the halving of Delayed Transfers of Care from hospital (bed-blocking). While this is very welcome, it is less important to most patients’ experiences than the 3 main indicators which the NHS itself has chosen to measure its performance against. The delays in cancer treatment (which the report didn’t even mention) are particularly scandalous – they will cost lives.

Elsewhere on this item, Claire Wright made a valiant attempt to get information about the winter crisis in Devon from the CCG (and earlier from the Ambulance Service). She was promised that evidence would shortly be provided to the committee.

PERFORMANCE AGAINST KEY TARGETS OVER LAST 12 MONTHS ROYAL DEVON & EXETER TORBAY & SOUTH DEVON N DEVON PLYMOUTH England average
A&E Target: 95% treated or admitted in 4 hours. 87.2% (-5) 88.3 (-1.7) 88.5 (-6.1) 79.3 (-4.8)

85.1

CANCER CARE Target: 85% begin treatment within 62 days of urgent GP referral 80.4 (-2.9) 77.3 (-16.9) 75.3 (-12.9) 78.5 (+1.7)

82.5

PLANNED OPS Target: 92% waiting less than 18 weeks 88.4 (-3.2) 83.7 (-5.3) N/A 82.4 (-2.6)

89.5

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