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Private healthcare providers approached to help with orthopaedics backlog

The King Edward VII Memorial Hospital in Stanley

There is a struggle getting orthopaedic specialists to the Islands for assessments and difficulty arranging remote consultations.

Director of Health and Social Services Tom Bale explained capacity in the NHS was at breaking point with an average wait time of two to three years for treatment. Speaking at the Health and Medical Services Committee on Monday Mr Bale said he knows people in the Falklands have been waiting longer for treatment.

He explained they are now starting to “think out of the box” and have approached private healthcare suppliers in the UK and Chile. The plan will focus on hip and knee treatments which are in huge demand.

“We are invested in a UK supplier who are offering us NHS rates.”

Mr Bale told the committee his department is working with the legal team for a tender exemption so they can begin work with the provider. He hopes to have a paper going to Executive Council in July and to “start getting people away as soon as possible.”

Chile is still being looked at as an option, particularly Santiago, but Mr Bale added the UK providers were giving more definitive answers. They also need to look at the full service including physio to make sure the department here can cope.

He then explained they will need to triage patients and some people may be jumped up in the metaphorical list.

“We book the surgeons time and it’s about what they can do in that slot.”

Missed appointments causing delays

The waiting time for primary care at the KEMH is the highest it has been in 2 years according to Mr Bale. The current waiting time of 8 days is thought to be due to a mix of winter illnesses and a big spike in Did Not Attends (DNAs).

Mr Bale said they are looking into why there is a significant rise in patients missing appointments but the hospital doesn’t think it is a communication issue on their part.

“I chose a random day and audited May 1, there were four and a half hours of missed appointments.

“There have been 1,200 GP appointments this quarter, we cannot call all those patients to remind them. People have to take ownership of their responsibility. However, we are looking to see if text reminders are possible.”

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