New initiative is important to create a blueprint for addressing care backlogs

13 May 2021

Commenting on NHS England's announcement of a new accelerator initiative to tackle waiting lists, the chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson said:

"Trusts are working extremely hard to tackle the backlog that was made much worse by the pandemic. They are treating the most urgent cases as fast as they can and are already ahead of the activity targets they were set.

"This is on top of successfully rolling out the vaccination campaign, dealing with demand for urgent care that has now returned to normal levels and very significant increases in demand in areas like children and young people's eating disorders.

Trust leaders are telling us that, in the places with the biggest challenge, getting through the backlog could, on current trajectories, take between three to five years.

Chris Hopson    Chief Executive

"Trust leaders are telling us that, in the places with the biggest challenge, getting through the backlog could, on current trajectories, take between three to five years. We know this is unacceptable and that the NHS needs to develop a bold, radical, plan to go a lot faster, with appropriate extra funding from the government.

"That's why this initiative is so important – it will enable a group of pilot trusts to identify a blueprint that every trust can use and adapt to speed up getting through their care backlog.

"Once that blueprint has been created, it will be vital for government to provide the required funding. Early signs on how many backlog cases trusts are treating are very encouraging. It's therefore possible that the NHS could use up most of the £1bn allocated for backlog recovery by the end of the first half of the year. If that happens, there will be a strong argument for more backlog recovery funding for the second half of the year. Beyond that, it seems likely that trusts will need at least three years' extra dedicated funding, on top of what was promised in the May government's settlement and the money that's already been set aside for extra COVID-19 costs."

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