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Healthcare professionals call for urgent action to address surgical backlog crisis in the NHS

Urgent changes are needed to address the elective care backlog, according to recommendations from healthcare professionals (HCPs) in a new report. The ‘Recovering Elective Care' white paper, launched on day one of Future Surgery 2022, brings together experts from across the healthcare system to examine the state of the elective care crisis.

The report, released by medical solutions provider Mölnlycke, was developed following a roundtable with HCPs and experts in elective care. With 7 million people on the waiting list, the elective care crisis is now the most significant challenge facing the NHS post-COVID.

The report provides an overview of the scale of this challenge, highlighting best practice across the healthcare system and issuing recommendations to help healthcare leaders to address the crisis. It also provides considerations for future research, suggesting how healthcare, government and industry stakeholders can work together to embed improvements in the NHS.

Commenting on the launch of the report, Deputy Director at the Centre for Perioperative Care and Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Professor Scarlett McNally said: “The significant crisis facing us in elective care is a huge threat to our NHS, but it also represents an opportune moment to reconsider how we optimise patients for surgery. By increasing day case procedures, implementing shared decision-making between clinicians and patients, and standardising best practice across pathways, we can reduce waiting lists. As clinicians, we want to provide the best care we can for our patients – this report sets out recommendations to improve the patient’s experience of surgery, while improving efficiency and tackling the backlog to reduce pressure on the NHS.”

The Recovering Elective Care white paper discusses the health service’s learnings from COVID-19, calling for a renewed focus on increasing collaboration among the workforce and protecting staff from burnout. The report also explores how planning for surgeries and investing in innovative practices can support the elective care recovery.

The report issues eight recommendations for the Government, NHS, and industry partners to support the recovery of the surgical backlog, including:

  1. The Government should consider implementing a programme to establish dedicated day surgery units and teams.
  2. New guidelines should be established to use shared decision-making to prepare patients in secondary care settings, to support surgical teams to adjust elective care waiting lists in a way that is reflective of patient need.
  3. A national NHS Task and Finish group should be established to explore the potential for greater implementation of value-based procurement models in reducing the elective backlog.

Global Medical Director at Mölnlycke Dr Tod Brindle said: “The current backlog in elective care presents the biggest challenge to delivering effective healthcare in the United Kingdom. Every time a surgical procedure is delayed, it is another patient unable to return to normal life or begin their recovery. In facilitating this report, we at Mölnlycke want to work in partnership with healthcare professionals and experts to understand how we can create a sustainable elective care recovery for the NHS, and identify how Mölnlycke can provide the solutions to support this.”

Dr Brindle and Professor McNally were also joined on stage at Future Surgery by Siva Anandaciva, Chief Analyst at the King's Fund, as they discussed the challenges ahead. The speakers called for a change in culture with a move away from a model of 'competition', towards a more collaborative approach between healthcare providers – sharing ideas, innovation, best practice and resources. Only two people in the audience were aware of the concept of 'Provider Collaboratives'. However, these are partnerships that bring together two or more NHS Trusts to work together at scale to benefit their populations. There was optimism among the panel that this could bring significant benefits to patients going forward.

Download your copy of the Recovering Elective Care White Paper here.

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Upcoming Events

IDSc Annual Conference

The Eastside Rooms, Birmingham
29th - 30th November 2022

Arab Health 2023

Dubai World Trade Centre
30th January - 2nd February 2023

Access the latest issue of Clinical Services Journal on your mobile device together with an archive of back issues.

Download the FREE Clinical Services Journal app from your device's App store

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