Leicester’s Hospitals has secured an investment of £3.5m to ensure that routine patients, as well as suspected cancer and clinically urgent patients can be screened and referred for treatment as soon as possible, despite the continued pressures of COVID-19 and winter.
Pre March 2020, the endoscopy services at Leicester’s Hospitals were performing procedures in over 600 patients per week, but due to the pandemic it has not been possible to continue to see this number of patients.
A lack of capacity can mean patients self-managing a range of sometimes uncomfortable physical symptoms, whilst wondering if those symptoms are a sign of a life-altering health condition.
But thanks to what is thought to be one of the largest NHS investments in endoscopy services this year, the Trust will deliver a month-on-month capacity improvement from December 2020. By March 2021, this will exceed pre-COVID-19 levels.
Initial improvements began with the opening of a temporary, state of the art ‘Vanguard’ endoscopy unit at Leicester General Hospital on December 7. The unit will take patients who would ordinarily have been seen on the main sites, whilst extensive improvement work on endoscopy rooms at Leicester General Hospital, Leicester Royal Infirmary and Glenfield Hospital begins from January 2021. The refurbishment will modernise the much needed service and further increase capacity.
The opening of the unit will also coincide with the increased utilisation of community sites at Loughborough, Hinckley, Melton and Market Harborough which will continue into 2021 and beyond enabling more patients to be seen closer to home, whilst still remaining in the care of UHL clinicians.
Clinical endoscopy lead, Dr Sanjeev Pattni commented: “Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 some patients who require investigation and treatment have had to wait longer to be seen which can understandably leave some people worried.
“What we have managed to secure with this funding will be a lifeline for some, and a reduction in anxiety for the vast majority of our patients. This investment isn’t just about improving our endoscopy environment; it’s about protecting the physical and mental health of our patients.
Andrew Furlong, medical director at Leicester’s Hospitals said: “The impact of COVID-19 on our endoscopy services has been significant, but we have worked tirelessly to ensure that patients who should be seen, are seen.
“Understandably, patients who have had to wait want to know when they will be seen. To ensure patients are booked in a timely manner, we are reviewing all patients based on clinical needs, and our endoscopy team will be in touch to let people know when they have their appointment booked.”
As the Trust implements improvements, patients who have scheduled appointments are encouraged to continue to attend, unless told otherwise by your clinician via letter or telephone call.
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Head of Communications University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust