Delays to new Lister Surgicentre

A MULTI-MILLION pound surgery facility which opened at Lister Hospital just three months ago has been blighted by delays and cancellations, with the NHS admitting to “teething problems”.

The �47m Lister Surgicentre became fully operational in October, with thousands of patients from the East and North Herts NHS Hospital Trust being transferred over.

But the centre, which boasts six operating theatres, inpatients beds and outpatient services, has suffered delays and cancellations, it emerged at a county council health scrutiny committee.

The surgicentre is run by private company Clinicenta, in partnership with NHS Hertfordshire. The East and North Herts NHS Hospital Trust, which operates Lister, has no affiliation with it.

Cllr Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council and health scrutiny committee member, said: “I’ve had people report to me, people who have had surgery, saying it’s back to the old days. People are turning up for operations, waiting all day, then being sent home.

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“One person, who is a teacher, had taken the time off and got people to cover. He went down, waited all day and was then told he wasn’t having the operation on that date and was told to come back later that week.

“It was mentioned at the scrutiny committee. They [Lister] said they had had some complaints, but they aren’t responsible. They don’t have any say over it, and are just as unhappy as we are. People think it’s connected with Lister, but they have no influence.

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“If not through Lister Hospital, how do we get this sorted out? What do people do if they want to complain? Have other people experienced this?”

At the health scrutiny committee meeting, an update was requested for a later meeting.

Since then, Clinicenta has apologised for delays that patients had suffered, and said that it had undertaken a review of its services.

A spokesman said: “Transferring patients between the former provider and ourselves is a complex process and both ourselves and the trust are working hard to ensure that patients are transferred in a safe and timely manner. The new arrangements are taking time to bed down smoothly but we are committed to maintaining maximum effort until the services are running how we and our patients would want to see them.

“We are endeavouring to ensure that all patients are kept informed of the changes to appointments as we continue to launch the new services. Our telephone booking process has been reviewed and the number of telephonists increased to deal with the telephone calls.

“For those patients who have been inconvenienced, we sincerely apologise and where cancellations have occurred all patients affected are being notified of their new arrangements. At the present time, the average waiting time for procedures is 15 weeks against a national target of 18 weeks.

“Clinicenta and NHS Hertfordshire are working together to ensure that issues are identified and resolved quickly so that they have the minimum impact on services to patients.

“Any patients who have concerns or questions should get in touch with the surgicentre team who will be very pleased to answer them – the contact number is 01438 735200. There are also ways to feedback comments and suggestions via our website -”

Beverley Flowers, director of systems management at NHS Hertfordshire, added: “Transferring services from one provider to another is a pretty complicated process and we know that there have been some teething problems during this early stage of the new arrangements.

“The surgicentre team are working hard to make sure that changes to appointments are kept to the absolute minimum and that when it has been necessary to make changes patients are kept fully informed.”

As it has no affiliation or responsibility to the surgicentre, the East and North Herts NHS Hospital Trust said that it was unable to comment.

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