Prior to the advent of COVID-19, NHS waiting lists sat at a 10 year high with 4.4 million people waiting for elective care. Over 16% had waited more than 18 weeks and 1,613 people had waited over 52 weeks. Historically, outpatients represent 85% of all UK hospital-based activity – excluding A&E.
From April this year, NHS England required hospitals to postpone non-urgent elective care with a massive re-deployment of staff and beds taking place to increase ICU capacity. Concerns have now been expressed by the Royal College of Surgeons that it may take up to five years to clear the backlog in elective care.
During the crisis, many organisations temporarily relaxed the criteria around different processes to accelerate the adoption of innovations such as digital consultation technology and to scale-up the use of virtual outpatient clinics. There is now a requirement to embed crisis-induced good practice and innovations within business-as-usual processes, whilst revisiting or re-instituting governance where there may be concerns about safety, appropriateness, or sustainability.
Things to think about…
There are several considerations for those thinking through how to address the backlogs and embed the transformation they have delivered over recent weeks:
All this work will sit alongside the need to respond to future spikes in Covid19 and the impact of this on the ongoing balance between urgent and elective provision. To get through the next phase of recovery, organisations will need to undertake a process that can best be described as ‘new business-as-usual transformation’.
Attain can support organisations and systems with all aspects of the work now needed around elective care, including planning, capacity and demand modelling, models of care and pathway redesign, and workforce solutions. There are some huge challenges ahead of the NHS and we want to use our wealth of skills and expertise to help you to meet them.