We know we have written about this before, but last week, The Lincolnite carried an apology from Dr Kieran Sharrock from United Lincolnshire Hospital Trust for the long delays for appointments and the waiting times that patients are having to face.  We understand that these are the result of an unprecedented situation, but sometimes delays in getting a diagnosis can make an existing condition much worse or even be fatal.

Dr Sharrock had this to say:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a big impact on the NHS. Although COVID cases in our hospitals have now reduced we are still having to work in COVID-safe ways. This means that it will take a long time for the NHS to restore services to pre-pandemic levels.

In Lincolnshire, we will work hard to tackle the backlog of patients whose care has been impacted by the pandemic. We need to do this whilst also keeping our patients safe”

He acknowledged that it was an anxious time for patients, not being able to find out what their problem is and whether they need treatment, but was unable to be any more certain about how long waiting times may be.

Hospitals are contacting all patients to understand their current situation and prioritise those in most urgent need and trying to ensure that where treatment is needed, it can be provided.  However, this has to be done safely, with Covid testing still going on for staff and patients and protective clothing worn.

Some visiting has resumed, but thee are restrictions. Check with the hospital you are intending to visit and even the specific ward, as you don’t want to be turned away when you get there. Disappointing all round.

Dr Sharrock suggests that if you are waiting to be seen and you think you might be getting worse, then try contacting the hospital you have been referred to for a specialist to review your referral letter and to discuss any changes in symptoms.   But you should be prepared for there to be a queue of people waiting on the phone to be put through, so choose a time when you can afford the time to wait on the phone.

Your GP is unlikely to be able to help with getting you seen more quickly, unless there is a serious deterioration or an emergency, but they might be able to offer help with symptoms while you wait.

Despite the likely waits, we would urge you nevertheless not to be put off from seeking help if you have worrying symptoms.  Don’t be deterred if you can’t contact your GP or hospital – keep trying.

Our medical negligence solicitors here at Ringrose Law have many cases where delays have caused missed diagnoses or have made something that would have been treatable with timely intervention untreatable.  

You may be thinking you don’t want to burden the NHS;  your cough or back pain is probably nothing after all.  But you’ll become a greater burden if you wait, only to discover you need more extensive treatment, more time in hospital, more medication and a greater recovery time due to the time that has passed, allowing your condition to develop and worsen.

Dr Sharrock’s open apology is welcomed and we can only wait for things to “get back to normal”  eventually.  If we can remember what “normal” was, of course.


If you do need help or advice about a medical negligence claim call 01522 561020 or email wecanhelp@ringroselaw.co.uk

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