DONCASter hospital chiefs have apologised after it emerged patients may have suffered eye damage after waiting too long for treatment.
Bosses at Doncaster Royal Infirmary have launched an investigation following the discovery that more than 170 patients had spent excessive time on waiting lists - some for more than a year.
The blunder came to light while staff at the Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - which governs all the area’s hospitals - were updating records and monitoring waiting times.
And it has been revealed five patients awaiting eye treatment could have suffered eyesight damage as a result of the delays.
Mike Pinkerton, acting trust chairman, said: “We apologise sincerely to any patients affected by these errors. We have now contacted all of them and have been running additional theatre lists and outpatient sessions to ensure they are seen and treated as a priority.”
The issue came to light during data checks while staff moved to setting up a new waiting system. The checks found 133 patients, referred by their GP for hospital treatment, had been waiting for more than a year.
Of that total, 124 have now been treated or referred back to their doctor, while the remaining nine will be treated in the next month or so. The hospital says none of the patients in that category had been identified as coming to harm.
But further checks established there were 40 patients suffering age-related loss of eyesight who did not receive follow-up injections as promptly as they should - and five may have suffered eyesight damage as a result.
Mr Pinkerton added: “We have contacted all the patients involved to apologise and arrange their treatment as a matter of urgency. Naturally, we will do everything we can to support them.”
A third group of ophthalmology patients who had already been treated were found to be overdue follow-ups - they are now being referred back to their GP or optometrist.
“We are ensuring those patients who do need to be seen in hospital again have their appointments as quickly as possible in order of need and chronology. None of these patients have been identified as coming to any harm. I can also assure them we have put rigorous controls in place to prevent similar problems reoccurring in future.”
Under NHS rules non-cancer patients are entitled to be treated within 18 weeks of referral and hospitals are expected to ensure at least 95 per cent of outpatients and 90 per cent of inpatients are treated within the same timescale.