Patients receiving general surgery services at Dorset County Hospital are having to wait up to six months on average before receiving treatment.

Figures provided by DCH have revealed that patients who are waiting for non-urgent consultant led treatments, after being referred to by a doctor, wait on average 29.9 weeks – just over six months.

For the latest monthly figures available, only 33% of patients were seen within 18 weeks In November. NHS England has an operational standard that 92% of patients are seen within this timeframe.

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Of the 1,296 patients that were still waiting for treatment in November, half were waiting over 27 weeks and 8% had to wait over 61 weeks – a year and two months.

For patients waiting for an appointment with a general surgery clinician, the average wait was 22 weeks, or five months

Anita Thomas, chief operating officer at DCH, said: “At Dorset County Hospital the average waiting time for a first appointment with a general surgery clinician is 22 weeks, with the average waiting time for treatment being 26.9 weeks from referral.

“Our waiting times for surgery are reducing, but remain too long, and we are working with partners across the Dorset Integrated Care System to address this. 

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“We absolutely understand the impact longer waits have on our patients and our teams continue to focus on getting people treated as soon possible, while keeping in touch and supporting those who are waiting.

"The safety of our patients is our top priority and our waiting lists are reviewed and re-prioritised on a regular basis.”

Concerns have been raised over the impact that these waiting times have on patients, particularly those over 65.

A report by a national mobility scooter firm, that provides its services to Dorset, has said that over a third of people aged 65 and over feel ‘inadequately supported’ while awaiting healthcare services, and have called for action to help better provide treatment for them.  

Verity Kick, Marketing Director at Oak Tree Mobility said:, “As the latest NHS data reveals, the escalating wait times for general surgery are more than a statistic; they're a stark reality for many, especially our elderly population.

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“It's distressing to see that over a third of elderly patients feel inadequately supported during these waits.

“These delays are not just numbers on a page; they represent real people, often in pain and discomfort, waiting for essential treatments.

“We must advocate for and implement strategies that ensure our older adults are not just waiting for care but receiving it in a timely and empathetic manner."

Plans are already under way from Dorset County Hospital NHS Trust to improve its waiting times for general surgery services, with more facilities being provided at several locations across the county.

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Mrs Thomas added:  “We will soon open a new outpatient and diagnostic facility in South Walks House, Dorchester, which will greatly help reduce waiting times for appointments, and we have plans in place to restart surgical procedures in Weymouth Community Hospital later in the year. 

“In addition, our new, purpose-built Discharge Lounge opened in the autumn and we are refurbishing our elective surgery ward so we have this as a dedicated area to support surgical care later this year. 

“Alongside this we are focusing on running our operating theatres as efficiently as possible and seeing strong progress in increasing our rates of day case surgery.”