HEALTH chiefs are ‘pulling out all the stops’ to reduce the number of people on waiting lists at Bournemouth and Poole hospitals.

NHS figures show 51,480 patients were waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at University Hospitals Dorset (UHD) at the end of September – up from 49,891 at the end of August.

The median waiting time from referral to treatment was 13 weeks in September.

Jonathan Wright, head of patient access at UHD, said: “This is not a position that we want to be in for our patients and our staff and we understand it’s really tough for patients and their families not knowing how long they are going to wait for their first appointment and operation or treatment.


“It’s also really tough for our staff who want to be seeing patients who are waiting for their appointments as well.

“We understand patients want to know how long they will have to wait but it’s also difficult for patients who are just starting off on their journey and just going to see their GP now and feeling that there’s a mammoth wait ahead of them.”

Nationally, 5.8 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of September – the highest number since records began in August 2007, and the 12th successive record high.

Bournemouth Echo: UHD clinic being built in Poole's Dolphin CentreUHD clinic being built in Poole's Dolphin Centre

Of them, 12,491 had been waiting longer than two years – more than four times the 2,722 patients waiting this long in April.

At UHD, 9,040 patients were waiting for one of 15 standard tests, such as an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy at this time.

Of them, 497 (5 per cent) had been waiting for at least six weeks.

Despite rising pressures exacerbated by the pandemic, staff at UHD are working tirelessly to bring down treatment waiting times, Mr Wright said.

It is increasing patient contact points and communication to help prioritise care and channel patients into the right treatment this also gives patients the possibility to flag any concerns and cancel appointments.

The hospital trust is also working to build a number of new facilities to provide more space for clinicians, including new sites at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital and the outpatients village at the Dolphin Centre in Poole.

The new outpatients centre in Poole is set to open by Christmas.

“We are pulling out all the stops to open by Christmas.

Mr Wright added: “Although barriers will come up we are working tirelessly and doing all that we can to open it.

“Everyday we don’t open is another group of patients that aren’t being seen so we’re pulling out all the stops to make it happen.”