Kent and Medway NHS faces scrutiny over growing hospital treatment delays

Hospital trust

By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan

Kent’s NHS is to face scrutiny over hospital treatment delays for thousands of patients amid the pandemic.

Around 153,000 residents are on a waiting list to be seen for hospital care in the county, representing a rise of 6% from April 2021, according to the latest data from the Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Demand continues to increase at Kent’s seven main sites as more than 6,000 patients have been waiting for treatment for more than 12 months. Those with the “highest clinical need” are being prioritised.

Kent County Council’s (KCC) health scrutiny committee will conduct a “deep dive” over the next three months into the actions being taken by the NHS to reduce the growing backlog, it emerged earlier today (September 16).

There was cross-party agreement from Conservative and Labour county councillors on the issue.

Cllr Karen Constantine (Lab), who sits on KCC’s health scrutiny committee, expressed her fears over the hold-up for patients and lack of detail around the long-term solutions.

The Ramsgate member told a panel of Kent NHS leaders and councillors: “We are now seeing appointments being pushed into May 2022 and beyond. This is a staggering amount of outstanding elective operations.

“Sometimes patients are suffering incredible pain and anxiety. Sometimes conditions are worsening, leading to further and more invasive treatment.”

Cllr Constantine called for clarity from bosses at the Kent and Medway’s CCG on their contingency plans to ease the pressure on patients amid Covid, along with a timeline on when the rising backlog will be reduced.

Chief Nurse at Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group Paula Wilkins

Paula Wilkins, Kent CCG’s chief nurse, said waiting lists are “being looked at” across the 13 districts, including Medway, with some progress being made.

Kent’s CCG told the panel that the average wait time for the vast majority of patients is around 10 weeks.

However, 6,010 people were listed as waiting for more than 52 weeks in June, according to the latest data.

No specific figures have been released for the types of treatments facing the longest delays.

Ms Wilkins said she was unable to provide specific details on how the backlog will be reduced during today’s hybrid meeting at Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone.

She said: “Some of those plans are still being worked through at the moment.

“But I am sure we can share that with the scrutiny committee once we have confirmed those.”

In response, Cllr Constantine said a “deeper dive” was required, citing the need to look out for her residents.

Cllr Paul Bartlett (Con), KCC’s health scrutiny chair, said a closer review was merited.

It comes as a £12billion tax hike has been proposed to pay more money into the NHS and UK social care from next April. This was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week.

Cllr Bartlett said: “At the next debate, we should have this as a standing item and hear about the waiting times for elective care. I am keen to understand how the four trusts in Kent are going to work together on this.”

The next KCC health scrutiny meeting is due to take place on November 11 from 10am.


  1. It’s poor funding of the NHS. I have been waiting on a pre-waiting list for many months without any contact. I suppose when they do get round to contact me there will be another long wait before I can be seen. I hope my condition doesn’t get worse in the meantime. I expect there are thousands in similar position.

  2. No doubt, it’s important to investigate local management and their decisions.
    But this is a national problem. ALL areas suffer from underfunding.
    It has been getting worse for years .The pandemic only brought it into focus.

    As a test to see if government are really committed to improve the situation, let’s see if they change the plan to close the stroke unit at QEQM.
    If they don’t, it would indicate that nothing has really changed and services are still being run down.

  3. Is it poor funding or paying for too many managers. ?
    My first X-ray was over 10 years ago on my hips and knee’s where upon I was told my right knee needed replacing. The hips and left knee were showing signs of wear and tear which was not unusual for my age and career’s.
    My latest X-ray at my request shows that the right knee still needed replacing with no great deterioration of the others. I received correspondence asking me to book on-line to see a specialist at my chosen hospital.
    The next available appointment would be available in 2022.
    After receiving a letter stating I had not made an appointment yet I phoned appointments. Information had not been passed over. Two days later I received correspondence advising a telephone call would be made in a months time.
    I am not holding my breath for the telephone call or an appointment.
    I have asked if I could have a new knee before I reach 100. They will try their best.
    The trouble is the older one gets one sensibly wonders if a new knee at 80/90/100 is worth it and worth waisting hospital funds.
    Best thing is to keep taking the tablets or chop your leg off above the knee.
    Its very painful when grandchildren accidentally on purpose kick your foot. 🙂
    Still there are people worse off than me

  4. GPs have caused a backlog by not doing their job and hiding behind Covid. E consult is a very poor service and cannot exam patients. GPs have always been the first contact for patients however since the pandemic they have been hiding all other staff have been working face to face but not the doctors they have been happy for patients to phone 111 who in turn send patients to overworked A&E staff. The only thing GPs are good at is passing the buck with the patients piggy in the middle. The government should increase A&E departments and staff and sack all the GPs. They have proven by their absence we don’t need them.

    • Yes, I don’t really understand how they can send their GP’s to hubs to vaccinate people for months on end-exposing themselves to vast swathes of potentially infected people & then refuse to see anybody in person at the practices. Many don’t have access to video technology to do these video calls & even if they do it might be fine for rashes & minor injuries-but what about more serious cases that need a face to face examination?

  5. Now we know what Susan Acott and Kent CCG have been doing during Covid – nothing.
    Reminds one of The Grenfell and the leaseholders scandals- politicians know about the problem and have sat on their hands and done nothing.Acott et al. are made of the same cloth without consequences

  6. Have been waiting since April this year to be seen by a doctor for a problem. So far just a few phone calls. Now be told I can have operation but not untill 2023 so nearly 2 years of pain for what I have been told is a 2/3 hour operation. Feel really sorry for NHS have been dumped on by this government for far to long,

  7. The NHS has not been fit for purpose for a long time and is basically withdrawing most services to the public just now, under the guise of blaming it on a virus. It forgets that it is funded to provide a service to the public and they are the customers. Many don’t wants to clap any longer. That has a hollow ring.

    • Made me laugh how easily manipulated the general public are. Right before the lockdown the appalling cover-ups of baby fatalities, lies, not following inspectors recommendations/orders & terrible working practices/training of maternity staff was all over the media & people were saying the East Kent Trust were Satan, people need to be fired etc. Then suddenly they are out clapping & banging saucepan lids for the NHS for months on end-even while people were being admitted without Covid, being stuck on Covid wards due to their total incompetence/lack of care & then dying or becoming ill as a result.

  8. Just a reminder-something that kills between 0.5% and 1% of people who contract it, with the average age of death from it being over 83/roughly equivalent to life expectancy, has ground the NHS to a halt & millions of people with treatable conditions who in many cases have decades of life ahead of them are effectively being left to die & suffer.

    • On the flipside, in 18 months of covid about 570,000 people have been adnitted to hospital for covid. In 2019 /20 just under a million people were admitted either directly because of obesity or matters related to it. If a nation chooses to eat itself to ill health how much money do you keep throwing at the problem.
      The nhs was never created to deal with such problems. If people had to pay an insurance top up , premiums would depend on many issues including weight , perhaps then people would change their ways somewhat.

  9. Go to the graph for covid admissions and click on “all” for duration of data and “cumulative “, result is that in uk about 570,000 people have been admitted to hospital with covid.

    2019/20 hospital admissions where obesity is a factor

    So a million in a year for obesity and 570,000 for covid in 18 months. Which is the greater problem for the nhs and if your treatment is delayed which group is most likely to have placed most pressure on the nhs. How much money should be thrown at treating self induced/ aggravated medical issues? Is there ever a limit on how much should be spent? Imagine how good the nhs would be if it were not treating needless problems. Social care could be well funded instead. Perhaps we get the health service we deserve.

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