Thousands on waiting lists for operations in Guernsey

Hospital bosses blame the pandemic for the backlog. Credit: ITV Channel

Thousands of people in Guernsey are facing delays for operations as the island's hospital faces a huge backlog.

It is thought that 2,300 islanders are currently awaiting operations at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital.

The Medical Specialist Group says the backlog in appointments and procedures is down to the pandemic and the hospital having to rely on locum staff to fill positions.

Several departments at Guernsey's PEH are facing long delays for appointments.

There is currently an eight month wait for a gastroenterology appointments in Guernsey, while the target is just eight weeks.

The long wait is down to difficulties recruiting a specialist for the role.

Deputy Al Brouard has said that many permanent staff left the island during the pandemic and filling staff vacancies is key to resolving the backlogs.

As backlogs continue across the medical sector, charity Health Connections has seen a rise in the number of islanders asking for support while waiting for an operation.

Bella Farrell, Chief Executive of Health Connections said: " They are really very often in pain and one of the things that we can do is signpost them to support or activities in the community that can help them be distracted while living with the pain.

"So for example they may wait for a hip replacement but they can sit and sing so can join a choir and go to Styx and our transport service can take them there."

The charity aims to provide care and support for those islanders who are facing delays.

Jon Buckland, Chief Executive of the Medical Specialist Group said: "We are very much aware of the issues with the gastroenterology service, and I apologise to all patients who are waiting longer than they should to see the gastroenterologist or for a procedure such as endoscopy.

"There are several factors that contribute to the waiting times, such as staff or bed shortages at the hospital and the impact of Covid, many of which are outside our control.

"Endoscopy lists were particularly affected by Covid restrictions as endoscopy is an aerosol-generating procedure. We are working closely with our colleagues at the HSC to help improve the situation.

"There have been virtually no gaps in the provision of a consultant gastroenterologist. Our locum gastroenterologist leaves next week, and he will be replaced by another highly skilled and experienced locum gastroenterologist from the UK."

The Medical Specialist Group says it started looking for a new gastroenterologist six months ago, but have not been able to find a candidate with enough experience for the role.