East Surrey Hospital paid other trusts £3.5million to do operations because of 'desperate' bed shortage
THE trust that runs East Surrey Hospital spent £3.5 million paying other hospitals to carry out operations for it last year, because of a "desperate" need for beds.
Hospital chiefs at Surrey and Sussex NHS Healthcare trust (SASH), based at the Canada Drive Hospital in Redhill, have admitted being stretched to capacity and beyond for months.
Extensive building work is currently under way to improve capacity after the trust failed to hit the government's 18-week target for the time from referral to treatment, including a newly completed 40-bed modular ward.
A total of 1,362 patients spanning 185 different types of operation were treated elsewhere last year, at a cost of £3,554,000.
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Des Holden, the trust's medical director, admitted the figure was higher than at most other trusts.
He said: "For the majority of these people, we will do the operations they need. We want them to have the surgery done at East Surrey or at Crawley [which is also managed by SASH] but because of the referral target we're not able to achieve that.
"So we make arrangements for the patient to be treated at another trust. It was desperate, we needed more beds.
"All hospitals send some work away but not the amount we do.
"The sole reason we got the extra beds is to be able to do the surgery. These figures will dramatically reduce next year."
A spokeswoman explained the trust's main issue was with the balance of emergency cases it received.
She said: "We should have a 60-40 balance between elective and emergency cases, but with us, it has been 40-60, and you get paid more for elective work.
"But the patients are happy. Had we not done this, they could still be on the waiting list.
"And there was no additional cost to the taxpayer as the organisations that did the operations charged the usual tariff."
The most regularly transferred away from Surrey and Sussex NHS Healthcare Trust in 2011:
- Removal of tonsils – 159;
- Improved breathing through the nose – 151;
- Insertion of tube into the ear – 140;
- Removal of the gall bladder – 75;
- Reduce the pressure in a shoulder muscle – 74;
- Hernia repair – 55;
- Knee joint replacement – 52;
- Hip replacement – 47;
- Removal of lymphoid tissue in the nose – 39;
- Knee joint surgery – 37