The waiting time for tests and treatments not related to Covid 19 is likely to increase significantly in the second half of 2020 due to the effects of the pandemic, the head of NHS England admitted.
Providing evidence to the selected Commons Health Committee on June 30, NHS England Executive Director Simon Stevens said that, contrary to some comments, the NHS general waiting list actually declined by more than half a million between February and April 2020, because fewer people were nominated for treatment.
But, he added, “after the referrals return, we expect them to increase significantly in the second half of the year.”
Stevens said that in March and April, the number of elected hospital admissions to NHS hospitals was 725,000 less, but that number began to recover significantly. “As we speak, we think that we are now somewhere north of 55% of the levels of electoral activity to 19,” he said. He added that he hoped that by July or August the NHA would return to about three-quarters of the normal level of activity.
Stevens told MPs that the NHS will take a number of measures to increase capacity in the coming months, including expanding the agreement with the private sector to use its facilities and reassigning some hospitals in Nightingale for diagnostic testing.
Noting that four-fifths of patients on the NHS waiting lists are waiting for an examination or an outpatient appointment rather than an operation, he said: “We need to expand our diagnostic capabilities and have to do it in a new way. This will be especially true for endoscopy, especially for the treatment of bowel cancer. We are looking for a fundamentally different model for endoscopic research. “
Stevens said this would include increasing the use of non-invasive methods for screening and customizing specialized diagnostic and endoscopic packages that perform three sessions per day. “The first of these will be the Nightingale of Exeter, which we are going to partially reconfigure to scan without Cove-19. It will start next Monday and will last from 8 to 20 hours, seven days a week, ”he said.
Chris Hopson, Executive Director of NHS Providers Hospital Trusts, said the government will also need to fund extra beds to help deal with the backlog.
“We must ensure that we continue to use the potential of this independent sector. We need to keep Soloviev in some form. We also know that we simply don’t have enough beds, so we need to finance this extra bed, ”he told the committee.
Their comments were obtained from a survey conducted by the Royal College of Physicians, which found that almost half of the specialist doctors expect them to work at activity levels lower than the previous 19 for at least 12 months.1
Also speaking to the committee, RCP President Andrew Goddard said doctors were especially worried the following winter. “Everyone in the medical profession is worried,” he said. “We could be hit by the double blow of the big flu season and the big second wave. “How much this will affect our ability to catch up is perhaps the biggest problem for people.”
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