A MOBILE operating theatre is set to be installed at the Alexandra Hospital in a bid to ensure patients receive their operations quicker.
The unit could be in place within six weeks, subject to approval of a final business case, and will be used as a way of boosting capacity at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust which continues to struggle to meet waiting time targets for elective surgery.
As of January there were 1,207 people waiting more than 18 weeks for an operation requiring admission to hospital, up from 401 in December 2012. The outpatient backlog has risen by a similar amount over the same period from 477 to 1,456.
The Trust had planned to start hitting the target to treat 90 per cent of people within 18 weeks of referral in December, having missed it since October 2013. But they failed to do so blaming demand through A&E and delays discharging patients blocking surgical beds on top of an increase in referrals from GPs.
As well as cutting waiting times the Trust hopes the mobile theatre will also help deal with its financial problems by allowing them to generate more money by performing operations.
Chris Tidman, the Trust’s finance director, told a board meeting last week: “We do need to find ways of getting through our waiting list despite the pressures otherwise we have to send work out and we have theatres and surgeons standing there redundant and we can’t have that.”
The mobile theatre will be leased on a monthly basis and paid for out of the income from additional operations performed.
The Trust has announced its predicted deficit of £27.6million at the end of this financial year has fallen to £25.9million, partly as a result of renegotiations of contracts with suppliers.
But to ensure it does not run out of cash to pay staff and suppliers the Trust has had to take out an £8million temporary loan and has asked for a cash injection of £17.2million from the Independent Trust
Financing Facility while a turnaround plan is put in place.