Backlogs and Covid-19 impact still hitting health services in South Tyneside, say chiefs

Health chiefs in South Tyneside stressed they are still dealing with backlogs and the impact of Covid-19 as they seek to make improvements to areas such as dementia care.

At the latest meeting of NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Governing Body concerns were lodged around issues such as increased pressures on dementia and mental health services.

It came as part of the latest performance report put forward by health chiefs, and praise was given to the ongoing work of staff across many areas.

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However Paul Cuskin, lay member on South Tyneside CCG, said he had a number of concerns around dementia performance figures.

Concerns have been lodged around issues such as increased pressures on dementia and mental health services.

He said: “We’ve raised this many times before, but it’s certainly not improving, it’s 14.5 weeks until the first appointment with concerns that your loved ones got dementia, and 37.6 weeks until the diagnosis.

“They’re really disappointing performance standards for dementia.”

Speaking at the online meeting, he added there was also a lack of information around targets moving forward.

Deb Cornell, associate director for operations at the CCG, noted they would take the comments back and look to make improvements.

She said: “I think you’re right, I think there’s a bit more of a focused piece of work that needs to be done around all of that.”

Matthew Walmsley, chair of the CCG and GP in South Tyneside, also raised concerns over pressures in the demand for mental health beds.

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He said: “I am a little concerned that we have had a mental health strategy over a number of years where we’ve deliberately focused on investment in community services in order to reduce our bedstock and our bed base for acute mental health.

“If that is now coming under strain, that does concern me that maybe the community services that we put in place are maybe not delivering with the service that they should be.

“That is potentially a cause for strain on our acute bed base.”

It was noted this would be looked at in future meetings, and David Gallagher, chief officer covering Tees Valley CCG, pointed to the pressure all health services have been under due to Covid-19.

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He said: “Staff don’t come to work to do bad jobs to have poor performance figures, everybody is working really hard.

“While nationally you could get the impression that Covid is gone and finished, it’s still with us and the backlog caused by Covid is very much still with us.

“The only way to get into this and make the progress and get back to where we need to be and probably even ahead of that is through that collective and collaborative working.”