Waiting for treatment

Are you waiting for a hospital procedure? Due to extraordinary pressure on our services, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we are not able to see everyone as quickly as we (or you) would like. This page has information about what we are doing and how we can support you to look after yourself while you wait.

Long waits for treatment have risen sharply across the whole NHS, mainly because some services were stopped during the pandemic, so that staff could focus on treating COVID-19 patients and people who needed emergency and urgent cancer care.

Our commitment to you is to be open about the challenges we face and to give you as much information and support as we possibly can while you wait, by keeping this page up to date.

Please start by reading this open letter to everyone on our waiting lists.

Dear patient,
You will no doubt have seen in the news that the number of people waiting for planned NHS treatment is at an all-time high. There are currently more than 31,000 people waiting for an appointment with us, compared to around 18,000 before the pandemic started.

Due to extraordinary pressure on our services, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we are unfortunately not able to see everyone as quickly as we (or you) would like, particularly for our routine patients.

We absolutely understand that waiting for planned hospital tests or treatment can be a difficult and worrying time, and we are working hard, with all our colleagues across Devon, to bring waiting times down and to see you as soon as we can.

That might mean we offer you an initial video or phone consultation or an appointment at another hospital in Devon. We will also be referring people to the Nightingale Hospital in Exeter for orthopaedic surgery, cataract surgery and CT / MRI scans, when it re-opens in 2022 as a diagnostic and treatment centre serving the whole of Devon.

If we offer you an appointment at another hospital, this is because they are able to see you sooner than we could do at Torbay Hospital. It also means we think you need to be seen sooner, rather than waiting for an appointment in Torbay. Please do take up the offer of an appointment if we contact you. You will still benefit from the same standard of care as you would do here, and your Torbay team will have access to any test results and all your clinical records, as usual.

I’m sorry that we can’t give you a date right now for when we will be able to see you. But we can confirm that you are on our list, and can assure you that you won’t be forgotten. We will contact you directly when we are able to give you an appointment. How soon that is will depend on how serious your condition is and how urgently you need treatment. For example, cancer is always a top priority. For less urgent conditions, it could still be many months before we can give you a date.

There are lots of resources as well as up to date information on our website to help support you while you wait for your appointment. Please do take a look and see if there is something that might help you. We will update this page whenever there is news about our waiting lists and we will share details of everything we are doing to bring waiting times down.

In the meantime, please do let us know if you no longer wish to remain on our waiting list by emailing sdhct.pac@nhs.net. If your condition has significantly worsened and you feel unable to cope, please call the number on the latest letter you received from us.

We are so sorry not to give you better news, but do hope you will find the resources on our website helpful.

Yours,

Ian Currie
Medical Director

Deborah Kelly
Chief Nurse

John Harrison
Chief Operating Officer

Our staff are doing everything they can to tackle waiting times, including:

  • offering more video and phone appointments, which frees up valuable clinic time for those who need face to face appointments
  • working with other hospitals to make the best use of capacity across Devon – this means some people will be offered appointments at other hospitals if they can be seen sooner there than in Torbay Hospital
  • investing in new facilities that will help us make better use of our space, our equipment and our staff time; we are now building a new Acute Medicine Unit with 26 assessment spaces. This will reduce overcrowding in our Emergency Department and help us to keep our surgical areas free for surgical patients
  • doing more procedures at weekends, in the evenings and at Mount Stuart Hospital in Torquay, as well as planning to refer people to the Nightingale Hospital Exeter when it re-opens in 2022 as a diagnostic and treatment centre serving the whole of Devon. We are aiming to treat everyone who has been waiting longer than two years by the end of March 2022.

We have a range of videos, produced with our partner HCI, offering support and advice to help you keep well while you wait for your appointment.

If you are coming in to hospital, you may like to take a look at our videos showing you how to prepare, once you have a date for your appointment or surgery.

The CONNECTPlus app has been developed with our team to help you manage your long-term condition. The app provides condition-specific information and guidance, wherever you are in the world. You can use it to learn about your condition, and how to prepare for, and recover from procedures, and make informed decisions about your care. The app also captures information about your condition to help with your diagnosis and post-procedure treatment programmes.

Via the app you can:

  • keep a medication and appointment diary
  • get healthy lifestyle tips
  • find clinic locations
  • join a virtual joint school and physiotherapy programmes
  • watch helpful videos about how to manage your condition
  • contact your team directly.

We are adding to the app all the time and are currently working on features that help with medication management and trackers to help monitor your progress at home.

It is really easy to download the CONNECTPlus app.

Step 1: The app is available to download from the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. Just search for ‘CONNECTPlus’.

iTunes Google Play

Step 2: Select Torbay and South Devon. Once installed, open the app and select our Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust from the menu.

Step 3: Select your condition from the menu and explore the features and information included.

If you are waiting for a hip or knee replacement, you might find The Torbay Charts Decision Aid tool helpful. This is a tool which allows you to be involved in making decisions about how to treat your hip or knee arthritis. Further information can be found at Torbay Charts.

Other useful advice and resources can be found at:

Our Healthy Lifestyles team offers a wide range of support and advice around wellbeing, covering both physical and mental health. They even have a newsletter you can subscribe to. Visit our Healthy Lifestyles pages for advice on:

We are working with other healthcare providers across Devon to update MyHealth website and add more useful information to support and help you whilst you wait. In addition to specific information about health conditions and problems you can find out more about:

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