As NHS England begins to slowly recover from the year-long onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, great strides are being made as part of a wider effort to address extensive backlogs in urgent and elective services.
However, significant additional funding and capacity will be required if NHS England is to meet the government’s ambitious targets to reduce waiting lists and restore essential services by 2023.
BACKLOG IN ENDOSCOPY PROCEDURES
According to a recent analysis of data from 125 NHS England Trusts carried out by University College London, one of the areas which requires urgent attention is endoscopy procedures. A backlog of almost half a million colonoscopies, flexible sigmoidoscopies and gastroscopies has accumulated since the beginning of the pandemic. Resulting in significant delays in the diagnosis and prompt treatment of a range of serious conditions. Worryingly, if there is another lockdown or a slowdown in the relaxation of restrictions, it’s estimated that this figure could rise to 870,000, putting even more lives at risk.
Endoscopies are the primary tool used in the diagnosis of colorectal cancer (also known as bowel and intestinal cancer) – which is one of the most prevalent and deadly forms of cancer in the UK today, accounting for 11% of all new cancer cases.
According to Bowel Cancer UK, over 42,000 people are diagnosed with the condition every year. Although colorectal cancer is a highly treatable condition (with survival rates for early stage colorectal cancer around 90%), survival rates drop significantly as the disease develops. That’s why early detection – via an endoscopy procedure – is absolutely essential.
Clinicians have called on the UK government and NHS England to take immediate action and prioritise patients in urgent need of endoscopies. Although NHS England has already launched an impressive effort to reduce waiting lists – with elective procedures currently taking place at four-fifths of pre-pandemic levels and exceeding the official 70% target – this figure is not high enough to eradicate backlogs within the target timeframe of 2 years. In fact, in order for the backlog to be cleared by January 2023, researchers have estimated that endoscopies would have to be carried out at 130% of pre-Covid capacity.
OPTIMISING SERVICES WITH ‘ELECTIVE ACCELERATORS’
As part of a new initiative involving 12 NHS Systems across the country, the UK government has pledged an additional £160m in funding to help tackle backlogs in elective procedures. This cash injection – known as ‘Elective Accelerators’ – will help speed up the NHS recovery plan and improve outcomes for patients by allocating funding where it is needed most – to tackle backlogs in elective care and cancer screening services.
HOW MEDINET CAN HELP
We are currently working with NHS Trusts to develop bespoke service plans to optimise the use of existing facilities and unlock their ability to offer a true 7-day service, allowing more patients to be seen, diagnosed and treated.
With the help of Medinet’s dedicated and specialist clinical teams, NHS Trusts can make meaningful reductions to endoscopy waiting lists, exceed government targets and, all-importantly, ensure the best possible outcome for patients.
We can help you increase clinical capacity at weekends, evenings or 7-days of the week, with fully-qualified expert teams making use of under-utilized clinical facilities and theatres in your own hospitals. By offering patients flexible appointments, we can also increase attendance and improve satisfaction ratings, whilst boasting an industry-leading 0.07% incident rate.
Medinet can provide a successful, sustainable long-term boost to your additional care capacity and a meaningful reduction in endoscopy backlogs. Let our team of experts help your Trust to develop a bespoke package of support based on your specific needs. #EndTheWait.