The combined impact of health workers having to self-isolate, being sick themselves and also taking their annual holidays has slowed down efforts at Fylde coast hospitals to restore treatments to pre-Covid levels and cut waiting lists.
But bosses hope the pace of restoration will pick up in September as staffing levels return to normal.
Natalie Hudson, chief operating officer at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals (BTH) NHS Trust told a meeting of the board the restoration programme had suffered in July and August.
The Government’s £160m national elective accelerator programme had aimed to see hospitals offer 120 per cent of their pre-Covid activity levels by July.
Staffing levels have effected the hospital’s restoration programme
Ms Hudson said many staff had had to self-isolate in July and August, which were also peak months for taking annual leave which people needed after working hard during the pandemic.
This was “coupled with GP services which were severely stretched and struggling to meet demand”, while restrictions on social care packages had meant some patients could not be discharged quickly to their own homes.
Efforts to outsource work in order to reduce waiting times had also been hit because those companies also had reduced staffing levels for the same reasons.
But Ms Hudson said BTH had shown “really strong performance on restoration” by comparison to other areas of the country while “recognising it’s nowhere near the 120 per cent of the national accelerator target that we wanted to meet.”
Restorations levels in July were just below 100 per cent but the meeting heard plans are in place to improve this as part of an elective improvement programme.
These include maximising operating theatre efficiency and getting more patients onto the endoscopy list (enabling more internal examinations).