Local people share views on long hospital waits

People answering our survey described negative impacts on their lives and called for better NHS communication.
Photo of man with x-ray in hospital

People in Reading and nearby areas have spoken of the pain and disruption to their lives while they wait for hospital operations and appointments, in a joint local Healthwatch survey.

Their views come as the government sets out a plan for clearing the waiting list backlog that has built up over the pandemic.

Local people have told us that delays are having a negative impact on their life, pain levels and ability to work.

The impact on people

  • “The lump has got bigger, very painful to walk on, I'm on my feet 9hrs a day, and because I'm compensating with my other foot/leg I've now got problems with my hip.”
  • “I’ve been waiting for over 2 years now for an operation. It’s been cancelled twice including on the day when I’m in the hospital - it’s having a detrimental effect on my mental health.”
  • “I have a really bad quality of life at present and am in severe daily pain.”

People acknowledged the pressure that NHS staff were under but called for major improvements were needed in the way hospitals communicated with them.

Communication problems

  • “Phoned the [hospital] department only to be told that the referral was with them but it could be 2-5 years to be seen! We've never [received] any written comms from the hospital and had we not phoned we would not have got this info.”

  • “The telephone consultation was helpful, but despite 4 calls to the [hospital department] I’ve still had no feedback from my x-ray - all I’ve been told is that [hospital] have not processed it yet…ring again in a week if you hear nothing. I’ve given up.”

  • “I'm blind and I need letters by email but they always send them by post.”

  • “Although you can't give definitive [dates], if there is going to be a long wait, please tell the patient i.e. waiting list is approximately two years.”

Just over 320 people from Reading, Wokingham, West Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire replied to our online survey, in October and November 2021. One in five (20%) respondents said their planned operation or appointment had been cancelled once, while 16% said they’d experienced more than one cancellation.

We’ve shared our findings with the Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Integrated Care System, which oversees healthcare plans for our area. They have yet to formally respond.

The government's new plan says by July this year, no-one will wait longer than 2 years for a planned oepration and no longer than a year by March 2025.

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