'Cash alone won't solve NHS surgery backlog' - departing Mid Yorkshire hospitals chief

More money for the NHS will not solve a backlog of operations alone, a senior hospital executive has said.

Friday, 10th September 2021, 2:44 pm

Martin Barkley, the outgoing chief of the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust, said a serious shortage of surgeons was the more pressing issue.

The government announced an extra £5.4billion for the health service on Wednesday, to help hospitals carry out a backlog of medical treatment which has built up during the pandemic.

But Mr Barkley, who's run Dewsbury, Pontefract and Pinderfields Hospitals since 2016, said the problems ran deeper than cash.

Sign up to our daily Wakefield Express Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Hospitals across the country are grappling with a backlog of operations that have been postponed during the pandemic.

He told a trust board meeting on Thursday, that "money has not been a constraint" on carrying out planned operations this year.

He added: "The largest constraint has been theatre staff. We’ve got 25 per cent vacancies in that department.

"We’ve more than enough theatres.

"It’s not clear to me how just money will solve the problem.

Mr Barkley said that a shortage of surgeons was a more pressing issue than a shortage of money.

He added: "It’s going to be really difficult to achieve the activity levels we want to achieve."

High volumes of patients attending A&E at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield and a shortage of beds across the the three sites contributed to the problems.

However, the trust chief suggested that surgery may resume at Dewsbury "imminently", with one of the hospital's wards now described as being "empty".

Mr Barkley was later given a warm round of applause from colleagues, as he attended his last public meeting before his retirement later this month.

Local politicians and NHS staff have praised him for making many improvements to the trust during his time in charge, having taken over a deeply troubled organisation in 2016.

Local Democracy Reporting Service