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East and North Hertfordshire and West Essex CCGs boss hits back at 'worst performing' claims

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The body responsible for delivering NHS services in Bishop's Stortford and Sawbridgeworth has hit back at claims it is among the worst-performing in England.

East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) plans, designs and pays for health services for 600,000 people registered at 57 GP practices across the two districts. Made up of doctors from those surgeries and other health professionals, it decides how the local NHS budget of £724m should be spent.

Analysis of NHS England data by the Medical Technology Group (MTG) revealed East and North Herts CCG was ranked eighth worst in the country in terms of numbers of patients treated – 1,814 out of a population of 571,713 in June, or 3.17 per 1,000 population, up 10% on May.

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Herts Valleys CCG was tenth worst, treating 2,006 out of its population of 598,034, or 3.35 per 1,000 (up 10% also).

But they both fared better than NHS West Essex. Second worst in May and fourth worst in April, it was third worst in June having treated 879 of its population of 310,040 (2.84 per 1,000, up 23% on May).

Worst was NHS Wirral CCG in the North West with 2.52 patients treated per 1,000 population. Top-ranked was NHS Wakefield in West Yorkshire with 8.77 per 1,000.

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The NHS in England is treating significantly fewer patients than before the Covid-19 pandemic. A comparison found that 242,293 people received treatment in July, nearly 22,000 fewer (-8%) than in the same month in 2019 (264,108).

The data also show that the NHS still needs to make significant progress to address the waiting list of 5.45 million people in June and return to pre-pandemic levels.

There were increases in waiting times across all regions in June. Patients in the East – the worst-performing region – were waiting on average 22 weeks for treatment, an increase of 10.6 weeks compared with May.

The MTG is a coalition of patient groups, research charities and medical device manufacturers working to make medical technologies available to everyone who needs them.

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Barbara Harpham, its chair, said: "All patients, no matter where they live, deserve the same access to diagnostic tests and interventions. Everyone needs to be treated fairly and equitably as the NHS battles to recover from the enormous impact of Covid.

"We urge NHS England to agree to a post-Covid patient charter that ensures rapid access to treatment and no arbitrary restrictions so patients are certain of the service they will receive."

Dr Rachel Joyce, director of clinical and professional services for the Hertfordshire and West Essex ICS (Integrated Care System), which includes both East and North Herts and West Essex CCGs, said: "Our NHS staff are working incredibly hard to ensure that patients receive their treatment as soon as possible.

Dr Rachel Joyce, director of clinical and professional services for Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care System, which includes both East & North Herts and West Essex CCGs
Dr Rachel Joyce, director of clinical and professional services for Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care System, which includes both East & North Herts and West Essex CCGs

"With every patient case reviewed by a clinician, we prioritise those with the most urgent and complex needs – including cancer diagnosis and treatment, where more than 85% of people are beginning treatment within eight weeks.

"We've put in place additional diagnostic tests, appointments and surgeries, with more access at evenings and weekends, and are working alongside independent providers to make sure everyone is seen as quickly as possible.

"We're also utilising technology better, with telephone and online consultations where appropriate, using digital technology to monitor people's health from home and putting in systems that allow patients to schedule their own follow-up appointments if and when they need them."

The data also does not include patients treated by community providers or doctor's practices. More than 2.3 million GP appointments have taken place across Hertfordshire and West Essex between April and July 2021.

The MTG says uptake of medical technology in the UK is not as good as it should be, given its great potential to provide value for money to the NHS, patients and taxpayers.

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