MBI – Open Source Data: Waiting Times, Cancer and A&E
You may have noticed we have been quiet in January and February. Hopefully you haven’t missed our analysis of waiting times in England too much!
We haven’t been sitting around though – today we have some exciting news. We have been working on giving you all free access to the data on waiting lists that we use. Yes, you can see all of the data for every hospital in England, compare different regions, compare hospitals against each other and see performance trends over time. All for free.
That’s not all. We have done the exact same for A&E and Cancer data. Its all there – with additional functionality availability to anyone who drops us a line at email@example.com and we will respond with a username and password.
So please – feel free to access all three, register with us and get more functionality! All the info is on our website: www.mbihealthgroup.com/mbi-analytics/
So, what’s been happening with waiting lists whilst we have been hard at work? Well, it’s been getting worse. The waiting list is still growing, performance has been missed “officially” for the first time and two major scandals have broken.
Firstly, we had Great Ormond Street, that bastion of hope for sick children, who managed to “miss” 7000 of them off their waiting lists.
Then we heard that BHRUFT – that’s Barking, Havering and Redbridge, have been found to have 1015 patients who have waited more than a year for treatment. That’s more than every other hospital combined. They haven’t been reporting their position since November 2013 – nearly two and a half years later and they still haven’t got their act together.
Both Great Ormond Street and BHRUFT do not report their performance each month.
We have highlighted many times the issue of non-reporting. However this month, a senior source has told us that the Health Secretary will not allow any addtional hospitals to stop reporting in future.
On the face of it, that’s good news however the reason for this, according to our source, is that the combined total of all non-reporting hospitals is fast approaching 10% of the total waiting list – making the results of all the hospitals who do report, statistically invalid.
Yes, you read that correctly – the reporting of waiting time figures is approaching the threshold for being totally worthless because of the huge numbers of patients that are not being reported.
This is a national scandal and there hasn’t been a mention of it – despite the valiant efforts of numerous waiting list commentators like us.
In our work with hospitals, it is becoming increasingly apparent that this information is not used daily by managers and clinicians. Poor administrative processes continue to go unchallenged. When we work with hospitals we adopt the phrase – “clean wards, clean waiting lists” – they are the same thing. Both represent huge risks to patients yet NHS organisations continue to handle this information poorly and it needs to stop.
Of all the various bodies, from the politicians, to the huge regulation system, to the managers, to the clinicians and to the administrative staff – not enough is being done to prevent this risk to our patients and it simply isn’t good enough. Whilst we continually hear about Emergency Departments, beds, and social care funding we are sitting back and allowing a huge scandal against the 3 million patients (we know about) on the waiting list to occur and we do nothing about it.
In August 2014 Mr Hunt promised no more patients waiting longer than 52 weeks for treatment. And now we are hearing that actually, almost all of the reported data is becoming statistically useless because we are allowing organisations to stop reporting. Even the ones who are reporting have serious issues with data quality according the National Audit office. And why? Because poor recording, poor tracking and poor management of patients is simply accepted.
It is way past time that this issue was addressed not just by the politicians, managers, clinicians and regulators. It has been shown they are simply not up to the job.
Patients need to stop accepting the status quo and demand they are treated appropriately. They need to be educated about their rights and then demand they are afforded them.
If you think this isn’t important, an anecdote to finish on. A relative who needed major surgery received a date after chasing the hospital for months to be given one. It was 17th December. It got cancelled on the morning she was due to go in. Her right was to have been treated no more than 28 days after this. When I told her this last week she cried because she has been chasing the hospital since December and been unable to get an answer. Yesterday she was told she wasn’t on the waiting list and they didn’t know who she was. We are now involved and it will get resolved but what happens to the other patients?
We all know stories like this, and we put up with it. We created www.mywaitingtime.com to help and we will strive to help anyone who needs it – but first we have to all acknowledge there is a problem. Use MyWaitingTime and use our free databases to check on your local hospital. Let’s stop accepting the status quo.