Following on from the early successes of the UK’s vaccine rollout programme and subsequent easing of lockdown restrictions, the UK government is now faced with the arduous task of repairing some of the damage caused by the pandemic during the past year, and helping sectors including healthcare amongst others return to something resembling pre-COVID service provision.
The government has outlined a strong commitment to getting NHS services back on track, however, to do so will require substantial ongoing funding. Additionally, the NHS is shifting the focus away from emergency COVID care and redirecting resources to areas such as planned elective services.
Since the onset of the pandemic, the provision of non-emergency and elective care has been dramatically reduced in the NHS, leading to massive increases in waiting lists for elective procedures and negatively impacting on the lives of patients awaiting treatment. The suspension of elective procedures has led to an estimated 10 million patients currently awaiting treatment from the NHS. In order to address this backlog and bring waiting lists down to pre-pandemic levels (or better) in the coming years, then decisive action, funding and independent sector support is needed.
The UK government has acknowledged that, in order for NHS England to reduce waiting times for elective procedures in any impactful way, then significant financial investment – coupled with meaningful organisational change – is required. To this end, they have launched the Elective Recovery Fund (ERF), releasing £1BN in funding to aid the recovery of elective activity during 6 months 2021/22.
Acute trusts and their systems are now formulating plans to restore elective services with the support of organisations such as Medinet, addressing not just waiting list length but also certain ‘gateway criteria’ which have been laid down by the government in order to incentivise performance. These criteria include ensuring that the needs of patients who have waited longest are addressed first and reducing health inequalities, in addition to increasing elective capacity with a view to scaling rapidly, and maximising throughput without compromising patient safety or care quality.
As part of the wider NHS recovery plan, the government has committed to paying tariff prices for performance above 70% of pre-covid elective activity levels, in addition to core funding. This threshold will rise incrementally to 85% from July-September.
NHS England’s 2021/22 priorities and operational planning guidance states that: “targeted collaborative partnerships with IS providers to support delivery of system capacity plans will continue to be an important element of elective recovery plans”.
It’s clear that the NHS will need support meet these ambitious targets, drive down waiting lists and restore elective care. Medinet have been working with NHS Partners to form targeted collaborative partnerships: collaboration is the key to increasing capacity and facilitating elective recovery plans across all elective specialities.
Although the NHS has experienced unprecedented pressure in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the government has provided assurance that funding is available to get services back on track. Now is the time for acute trusts to secure support in the areas where it is needed most: to restore elective services, improve access to high quality care for patients waiting for services, and to do it quickly before either funding or capacity runs out.
HOW WE’RE HELPING
Historically, there have been numerous problems associated with outsourcing services to hospitals in the independent sector, and too much importance has been given to metrics such as cost-savings and efficiency. Today, service quality and patient safety concerns are at the forefront of service provision, so it is more important than ever to ensure that IS providers respect – and adhere to – NHS best practise procedures.
NHS managers are looking towards flexible providers which can work within existing NHS frameworks and pathways, accept joint governance and embrace transparency, at the same time as reducing stress levels for NHS staff and improving outcomes for patients.
That’s where we come in. Medinet has been providing experienced, highly qualified surgical teams to support NHS trusts and help reduce waiting lists for over 15 years. We’re providing a unique planning service which reflects the needs of your department, your priorities and your budget. Our expert clinical teams can mobilise rapidly, work flexibly (from 1 day a fortnight to 7 days a week), in one speciality or across multiple fields simultaneously. Ultimately we a design a service that provides the right clinical capacity in a fluid response that scales to need and provide this through the most appropriate model – as an insourcing solution or otherwise. That is why we have been trusted to safely see and treat over 40,000 patients since the last few weeks of 2021.
If you’d like to find out more about how Medinet can help, then get in touch. From short-term solutions to long-term support, we can help you to get your planned services back on track.