THE local health trust has uncovered a massive backlog of 22,000 letters that should have been sent to GPs about their patients – but never were.
The letters, some dating back to 2011 up to this year, concerned patients who had attended outpatient appointments or visited other hospital departments and concerned follow up care.
An initial review by Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust found some 11,000 of these letters required no further medical action and an urgent examination of the remaining 11,000 cases is now taking place – however it could be the end of September until this is completed.
A computer system problem has been blamed for the error.
This is the latest problem to engulf the Trust which this week was once again branded as ‘Inadequate’ by Care Quality Commission inspectors.
Michelle McKay, the Trust’s chief executive said: “We are sorry that some letters within the Trust’s document management system have not been processed properly. We regret that this means some patients may not have received the follow-up care they should have.
“We are working closely with our primary care colleagues and partner health organisations to urgently review the individual cases of these patients and to ensure, where appropriate, patients receive the necessary follow-up care quickly.
“An investigation is underway to understand how this has happened, so we can put systems in place to avoid it happening again.
“This is a serious issue which we are working hard to quickly address, however it is important we reassure our local communities that more than half a million patients are seen in our outpatient departments each year and the vast majority of these patients will have had the appropriate letters sent to ensure they receive the right follow-up care.”
The Trust is currently working with general practices to review the outdated letters and it nticipates that this will be completed by the end of September.
If any evidence emerges over the forthcoming weeks that any impact on patient care is found, the Trust will contact patients who have been adversely affected.
Any patients who feels they may have been adversely affected by this can contact the PALS Service on 0300 123 1732 or via wah-tr.PET@nhs.net .