Endoscopy unit has only treated 829 patients in 30 months

District councillor Phil Knowles, outside the endoscopy unit at St Luke's Hospital, obtained stats about the unit
District councillor Phil Knowles, outside the endoscopy unit at St Luke's Hospital, obtained stats about the unit

An endoscopy unity beset by problems has only treated 829 patients since it opened in January 2012, new figures have revealed.

The statistics were obtained and disclosed by district councillor and health campaigner Phil Knowles.

The endoscopy/minor procedures unit in the grounds of St Luke’s in Leicester Road was finally opened in January 2012 after lengthy delays and was thousands of pounds over-budget.

It had to be closed in September 2012 when rust was found on machinery and it reopened in January last year.

Cllr Knowles secured the stats from health bosses after months of pressure. They revealed that in the past two-and-a-half years it has been functioning for 131 days, served 829 patients and carried out 901 procedures.

It is the latest in a catalogue of problems with St Luke’s which has also seen delays in the £6m phase two build on the site with contractors finally expected to be appointed next month and the development expected to be completed in 2016.

The figures have been included in a letter by Harborough MP Sir Edward Garnier to the health secretary Jeremy Hunt urging him to help sort out the mess.

Cllr Knowles said: “It should not be necessary for the MP for Harborough and the health secretary to have this matter on their desks.

“Those at senior levels of the NHS have to deliver the scheme, no more broken promises, no more delays.

“It is quite simple as far as I am concerned. If they cannot then they should step aside and let those who can deliver the scheme take over.”

In his letter, Sir Edward said: “We have an NHS building at a cost £2-3m which has not been open for 5/6ths of the time when it should have been treating patients not only from Harborough, but from across Leicestershire and neighbouring Northamptonshire.

“I gather, for example, that consultants are unwilling to travel from Leicester to Harborough to carry out operations because there is no recovery room at the day centre for patients who have undergone a general anaesthetic.

“Surely something as fundamental as this should have been thought about before the project was started.”

Dr Dave Briggs, managing director of East Leicestershire and Rutland Clinical Commissioning Group which is now responsible for health in Harborough, said: “We are aware of past and present public concerns regarding St Luke’s and we want to reassure people that patient safety and providing patients with the best health and care services are our paramount priorities.

“We are working with our partners to explore ways to enhance the existing endoscopy service and providing other on-site services for people in and around Harborough.”

He also said that the next stage in St Luke’s development, once built, will make better use of the site, bringing a range of services together in one place.