The NHS Elective Recovery Plan, released earlier this year, outlined how the health system will solve COVID-19 treatment backlogs, beginning by focusing on the patients who had to wait the longest. Since reaching a peak of 22,500 in January, the number of patients who have waited 2 years or longer in medical centres has decreased by 15,000 to 6,700.
Those who are still on the waitlist are being questioned about their willingness to travel for medical care in the upcoming weeks. Teams from the NHS are making every effort to place them in different hospitals, and in some cases, they will cover patients’ travel and lodging expenses.
Over 400 patients have already indicated that they would be willing to travel, and 140 of them have surgery appointments scheduled at different hospitals. Except for individuals who wish to wait even longer or individuals in highly niche areas who may need a bespoke strategy, the NHS set forth goals to eradicate two-year delays by the end of July. Despite the most recent monthly numbers revealing that May was the busiest month for emergency care, with 2.2 million A&E visits and over 78,000 of the most critical ambulance calls, NHS employees are still making progress on COVID-19 backlogs.
The NHS is doing everything it can to reduce the length of time patients must wait for treatment, including opening weekend clinics, creating specialised surgery centres, and enabling treatment transfers. As happened around the world, COVID queues naturally accumulated as hospitals treated more than 750,000 patients with the virus in addition to caring for many more in the community, said the Chief Executive of the NHS, Amanda Pritchard.
Millions who delayed seeking assistance earlier in the pandemic are now doing so, but owing to the dedication of NHS employees, they have made significant progress on the waitlists for the most difficult cases despite Omicron and a challenging winter. Staff members are currently on target to practically eradicate two-year waits by the end of July as part of the largest and most comprehensive catch-up initiative in NHS history.
However, the NHS won’t stop there. From having to deliver one million tests and checks through their recently launched community diagnostic centres to brand-new, cutting-edge same-day hip replacements, staff members are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to treat patients more quickly, particularly those who have been waiting for a long time.
One of the advantages of the NHS is that hospitals may collaborate to reduce COVID backlogs together, and NHS employees are ensuring that it can occur if patients can and want to be treated more quickly elsewhere in the nation. When given the skills and resources they require, NHS employees continue to exhibit their flexibility, endurance, and empathy in providing for their patients.
Although not all people on the waiting list will still want to travel further, many patients across the nation are already preferring the choice to be treated more quickly. Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust treated three patients who were waiting for surgery at University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust, and two more patients have appointments there.
17 South-West patients have already received therapy at Southwest London Elective Orthopaedic Center, and 11 more are scheduled to undergo treatment in the upcoming weeks. Hospitals all around the nation are constantly searching for fresh and creative ways to support patient healing. A brand-new, cutting-edge cataract surgery facility in Lancashire is providing 35 patients with care each day, two days each week. Patients just need to wait six weeks for cataract surgery.
While the NHS continues to expand its network of Community Diagnostic Centers, which have already provided over one million diagnostic checks and inspections since the expansion started in July of last year. Due to a new facility the hospital has erected at the town’s Glass Works shopping centre, which will formally open this week, patients in Barnsley are already finding it easier to visit for diagnostic tests. Patients are informing staff that travelling to their ultrasound or X-ray appointment is straightforward and can be coupled with going about their day because they have access to the 670 parking spaces.
The NHS is making significant strides in ensuring that people who have been waiting the longest can obtain critical care as part of their commitment to clear the COVID backlogs, cutting two-year wait times in half since January, according to Sajid Javid, Health and Social Care Secretary. Earlier this year, he announced a new patient right to choose, and some of the patients with the longest wait times are already benefiting from the offering of a different provider who can see them more quickly. With record funding, innovations like this are reducing waiting lists and accelerating access to care, and over 90 neighbourhood diagnostic centres have provided over one million exams and scans in the past year.