AROUND half of patients at Andover's hospital are not being referred for treatment within an 18-week target, according to figures.

A report for Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s (HHFT) board of directors’ meeting shows that it failed to meet its target for treating patients for an entire year, from August 2019 to August 2020.

The trust, which also runs Basingstoke and Winchester hospitals, has a target to refer at least 92 per cent of patients for treatment within 18 weeks.

In August this year, 54.5 per cent of patients were referred within this timescale, with the worst month being July when 49.5 per cent were referred.

The figures have resulted in the trust graded as ‘red’ on a traffic light quality score card system, meaning it is “not performing well”.

A high number of patients have been waiting for more than a year for treatment, rising from one in August last year, to 1,172 in August this year.

The trust has a target of zero patients waiting more than 52 weeks, and failed to meet this for 11 months out of 12 during the year from August 2019 to August 2020.

It only met the target in September 2019.

The trust reported that there were 83 incidents reported in August of patients being “lost to follow up” which is recorded on the trust’s risk register as a “significant risk”.

It said: “The trust is piloting a harm review tool for those patients who have waited over 52 weeks which is completed when the patient is seen and treated.”

So far, 39 of these have been submitted, with one identified as ‘low harm’ – an orthopaedic patient whose condition had worsened during the waiting period.

The trust also failed to meet its diagnostic waiting target of six weeks.

Its target is for less than one per cent of patients to wait more than six weeks to be diagnosed.

In August 2019 2.3 per cent of patients were not diagnosed within six weeks, which leapt up to 36.5 per cent in August this year.

The worst month was April when 58.6 per cent of patients did not receive a diagnosis.

Other targets the trust failed to meet were 30 minute ambulance handover delays in the emergency department.

There were 122 in the year up to August 2020, against a target of zero.

A total of 46 of these were delayed by more than an hour.

Targets relating to the emergency department’s 15 minute time to initial assessment were not met for the entire year.

The papers prepared for the trust’s meeting, said its current priority now is restoring services “rapidly and safely”.

The papers said: “Teams across the trust are working very hard to overcome multiple challenges and increase the number of patients accessing care.”

It added: “Risks at the moment are around 52 week wait patients, elective inpatient care activity and the four hour emergency care target.”

It said delivering patient care “remains significantly challenging” with the current restrictions, which includes testing all emergency admissions; testing all elective patients before their procedure with a requirement for them to self-isolate before admission; and social distancing measures which “affects the volumes of patients that can be seen in an outpatient clinic on a face-to-face basis”.

The trust is also focusing on managing Covid guidance, and preparing for a second wave.

“The focus on staying alert to Covid and managing patients, visitors and staff in a safe way continues,” it said, adding: “In addition, there is preparation underway to enable us to continue to provide planned care in parallel with caring for Covid patients in a second wave, should this occur.”

The trust also acknowledged the need to give staff “time to recover” after “working so hard over the last seven months”.

The report said: “A key concern for the trust is any potential Covid-19 surge would lead to a reversal in the progress seen in August with increases in absence and bank/agency usage, as well as potential pressures on other metrics that may result from a constrained workforce.”

The trust has been asked for a comment.