NHS England has implemented robust plans to tackle the country’s elective care backlog, with some success. The latest figures reveal that waiting lists are going down, however there are still over 6 million people waiting for care. Clearly, there needs to be a significant reduction in this figure, as soon as possible.
One way to tackle the NHS waiting list crisis is through the use of insourcing, a term used to describe support from the private sector- However, insourcing is different from the traditional private healthcare model, in which care is provided in private hospitals or clinics and the NHS is billed directly by these private sector providers.
In contrast, insourcing utilises existing NHS facilities – such as operating theatres, clinics and other NHS premises – in order to carry out additional elective care services when those facilities are not in use (typically out-of-hours, during evenings and at weekends).
Medinet uses an in-sourcing model to support the NHS in reducing waiting lists, by providing qualified, experienced clinical teams to work flexible hours and carry out elective procedures, to help reduce existing backlogs.
Insourcing vs outsourcing
The NHS outsources a lot of medical care to help reduce pressure on staff and services, and outsourcing still plays an important role in maintaining essential services and keeping waiting lists down. In a traditional outsourcing model, patients will be referred directly to private hospitals for screening, treatment or elective care procedures or operations.
However, outsourcing has its disadvantages. The primary disadvantage is that outsourcing to private facilities is an extremely expensive option for the NHS. Secondly, private hospitals and clinics offer the NHS a reduced rate to the fees charged to their own private clients. This means that private facilities are forced to prioritise the needs of those private clients, which offer greater remuneration. As a result, NHS patients are pushed to the bottom of waiting lists, even at private facilities.
There is certainly a role for outsourcing in supporting the NHS, particularly considering the unique pressures the health service is facing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, outsourcing is not the fastest or cheapest solution, so should be used sparingly, and viewed as a last resort as opposed to the first port of call for overstretched NHS trusts.
The benefits of insourcing
Insourcing – developing operational partnerships with healthcare providers such as Medinet, who provide services within existing NHS facilities – can enable the NHS to carry out a greater number of elective procedures at a lower cost for trusts. This quickly translates into meaningful reductions in waiting lists, which could not be achieved so quickly using a traditional outsourcing model.
Insourcing not only utilises existing, underused facilities, it also draws upon a pool of experienced clinicians, many of whom are already familiar with NHS processes. Furthermore, insourcing providers such as Medinet are not constrained by NHS pay structures, so staff benefit from financial incentives that are heard to match within the NHS. In addition, clinicians are afforded the opportunity to work across a number of disciplines, gaining experience and advancing their careers at a rapid rate. Because the clinicians benefit from attractive remuneration packages, advanced career progression, flexible working and the support of an experienced clinical and administrative team, staff retention is less of a problem than for many NHS trusts.
And because clinicians are providing an out-of-hours service during evenings and weekends, it also benefits patients: not only do they receive essential treatment sooner, but delivery times are often more convenient and flexible, enhancing the patient experience.
Public-private partnerships: the future of the NHS
Perhaps in an ideal world, the NHS would not need to rely on the private sector for support. However, in light of record waiting lists and staff pressures resulting from the ongoing pandemic, a degree of public-private partnership is inevitable. Thankfully, funding is available for the NHS to use more innovative methods to reduce waiting lists.
At Medinet, we are already working closely with our NHS partners throughout the country to bring care to those patiently waiting, bringing the insourcing model to life and proving that by working together, we can help the NHS to get back on its feet.
We offer NHS trusts fully managed, specialist teams to deliver elective care and help increase capacity, within tariff and in full compliance with regulatory standards.
Our comprehensive service can be delivered at evenings, during weekends or 365 days a year, helping maximise capacity whilst providing an unrivalled standard of care.
For more information, get in touch.
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