Following the publication of Mölnlycke’s report on recovering elective care in the UK, James Hockley discusses some of the key areas where operating theatre efficiencies can be delivered. He highlights how new ways of working could help to relieve pressure on the system and its staff.
In 2020, the NHS faced its largest challenge in its 72-year existence. The COVID-19 pandemic placed immense strain on the NHS, putting significant pressure over its workforce. Hospitals experienced an overwhelming influx of patients, necessitating rapid adaptation and expansion of healthcare facilities. Healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, and support staff, worked tirelessly to meet the escalating demands under challenging circumstances. Their actions prevented the system from collapsing during the worst of the pandemic, by prioritising resources to save the lives of those who had been acutely infected by the virus.
This, combined with the slowdown of activities in the system due to the lockdowns, has caused the NHS waiting list to hit new records.1,2 Despite the hardships, the NHS workforce has continued delivering the best standards of care. The efforts of healthcare practitioners working across the UK can be reflected in the available data, such as the number of patients waiting more than 18 months for elective care falling to just 10,737 by April 2023 (down by more than 90% from 124,911 in September 2021).3 Nonetheless, the NHS’s capacity continues to be heavily strained, and urgent action is needed to reduce the elective care backlog and relieve pressure on the system and its staff.
Reforming elective care pathways
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