NHS Providers' response to health and social care committee report on clearing the backlog

06 January 2022

Responding to the health and social care committee's new report on clearing the backlog caused by the pandemic, the chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, said:

"This new report on clearing the backlog caused by the pandemic sets out the scale of the enormous task facing the NHS.

"It is important to recognise that care backlogs are not just about elective surgery but also mental health and community service backlogs too and we welcome the report's emphasis on this broader definition of backlogs.

"Every NHS leader recognises the importance of getting through these backlogs as soon as possible, given the impact they have on patients, as set out in the report.

"We know trusts and frontline staff worked incredibly hard to recover activity volumes before Christmas. However, the latest Omicron wave has had a significant impact on the rate of backlog recovery with a growing number of trusts having to delay planned care further due to a combination of higher COVID-19 caseload, staff absences and pressure on emergency care.

"We know workforce capacity is a major constraining factor in the health and care system at the moment. The lack of a national long term plan for the workforce, ongoing challenges with vacancies and recruitment pre-dating the pandemic by a number of years, as well as rising staff absences connected with COVID-19 is making the tough job of bearing down on the care backlog even tougher.

"We understand a lot of good work was undertaken by NHS national and local leaders towards creating a care backlog recovery plan before Christmas. But we will need to revisit just how much can be done, how quickly, given the level of disruption over the last month and the next few weeks."

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