A BBC investigation found that Kettering General Hospital has been guilty of removing patients from a waiting list in an attempt to ‘fiddle’ the healthcare system.
The allegations have yet to be satisfactorily confirmed, but BBC journalists discovered that many patients have waited over 12 months for operations.
And David Phelan, a hospital trust governor, claimed that patients were removed from lists because national targets were being missed.
In response to the allegations, Kettering General Hospital officials conceded that there had been anomalies, but stressed that a thorough review of data has been conducted since the matter came to light.
Nonetheless, the BBC investigation found evidence of what was described as ‘systematic fiddling’.
Indeed, the aforementioned Phelan asserted that managers at the hospital had utilised six exclusion categories in order to remove patients from official waiting-list data.
“It became apparent to me that a systematic fiddling of the waiting list figures was taking place. I made a whistle-blowing submission about this. I have been stonewalled about this for two years.”
While the hospital has asserted that there has been no deliberate wrongdoing, healthcare experts have observed that the number of people excluded from the system can be considered astonishing.
Kettering General Hospital has been forced to respond to the allegations, with a hospital spokesman outlining the process undertaken since the problems became apparent.
“We suspended reporting of our waiting list data to the Department of Health in December 2015 when we became aware of some anomalies which suggested there could be some issues with our systems. In March 2017 we returned to reporting our waiting list data. This means we are confident we have now addressed our data quality and system issues and that our waiting list data is reliable.”
Meanwhile, Kettering General Hospital’s chief operating officer Rebecca Brown stated that the matter had been taken particularly seriously, and that patients had received a higher level of care despite the worrying headlines.
“I want to reassure our patients that throughout this period – in the vast majority of cases – patients’ treatment pathways have progressed as normal.”
Nonetheless, Brown also conceded that mistakes have been made, and that measures were now being undertaken to rectify the situation.
“However the intensive review of our waiting list data and systems has found, as of May 21st 2017, 282 patients who have waited more than a year (52 weeks) to be seen. This is unacceptable and we profoundly regret that these cases were not seen appropriately much earlier.”