Thousands of patients were removed from a hospital’s waiting lists in a bid to “fiddle” the system.
Many of Kettering General Hospital patients waited a year or more for operations and trust governor David Phelan claims figures were manipulated because national targets were being missed.
The hospital admitted there had been “anomalies” and a hospital review found that 138 patients were harmed – including one who had substantial sight loss – as a result of the long waits.
Phelan was working as associate general manager in the trauma and orthopaedics
department when he discovered discrepancies in the referral to treatment time (RTT) data in October 2015. He warned managers that the daily RTT report was understating the true position by half when checked against patient records.
He discovered managers had used six exclusion categories to remove patients from their official waiting list data to avoid being fined for patients waiting longer than 52 weeks.
“It became apparent to me that a systematic fiddling of the waiting list figures was taking place,” he said. “I made a whistle-blowing submission and have been stonewalled for two years.”
An inspection report by the Care Quality Commission said that when data problems were identified, the number of patients found to be waiting more than 52 weeks leapt from just eight to 25,000.
he hospital trust was put into special measures last month by the regulator.