NHS in the east of England cuts longest waiting times by more than 90%

The number of patients waiting more than two years for treatment has reduced significantly since January thanks to the hard work and dedication of NHS staff across the east of England.

NHS staff have been working to address the backlogs in planned treatment which accumulated during the Covid pandemic, and as a result have reduced the number of patients waiting 104 weeks or more for treatment by 93% between the end of January and the start of July.

Innovation, new ways of working, and extended working hours have been implemented and introduced as part of efforts to tackle the backlog while prioritising those requiring urgency and emergency care.

As part of the recovery programme in the east of England, a new ophthalmology theatre at James Paget University Hospital in Norfolk is helping cut waiting times and allow patients requiring eye surgery to get seen sooner.

The £1.2m theatre saw its first patients in the middle of May and facilitates eye treatments such as glaucoma and cataract operations, with it being estimated that more than 1,200 additional cataract operations can take place per year.

A team of new doctors, ward and theatre staff have been recruited by the Trust to operate the unit and will be using the latest equipment to provide safe, effective and timely eye surgery.

A one-stop shop for diagnostic scans and tests and has also opened at Clacton Hospital in Essex and has already carried out 74,312 tests for patients since August 2021.

The Clacton Community Diagnostic Centre, which became fully operation in March 2022, is home to X-rays, ultrasounds, bloody tests, physiological and pathology tests

As well as cutting waiting times, the diagnostic centre brings many services closer to the people of the Tendring area of Essex, who previously may have had to travel up to 20 miles to Colchester Hospital for the same procedures.

Victoria Woodhatch, director of performance for the NHS in the East of England, said: “NHS staff have been fantastic in providing urgent care to patients throughout the pandemic, and now, in turning their efforts to the Covid backlog, have made significant progress to reduce waiting times for patients across the region.

“While there is still more work to do, I want to thank all NHS staff for their innovation and drive to reduce waiting times during one of the busiest periods for NHS in its history.”

Nationally, the NHS has experienced some of its busiest months in record, with monthly performance data shows 2.1 million diagnostic tests were carried out in May, the most checks ever for that month. It was the busiest ever June for 999 calls and A&E attendances.

In May 1.7 million people were referred for treatment, and almost 1.4 million people started treatment – with the NHS seeing 200,000 more elective patients compared to same month last year.


Notes to editors

  • Data relating to Referral to Treatment waiting times can be found here.
  • Number of tests carried out at Clacton community diagnostic centre correct as of 15.07.2022
  • Full story on James Paget’s new ophthalmology theatre can be found here.