Trust leaders are committed to finding different ways to address the backlog

13 May 2021

Speaking to BBC 5 Live about a new analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies on hospital activity, and NHS England's announcement of a new accelerator initiative to tackle waiting lists, the chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson said:

"The impact of COVID-19 on the NHS means that the backlog of care is large and continuing to grow. Trusts are going as fast as they can, concentrating on the most urgent cases, and making good progress against the immediate targets they were set. But the problem is that, as one trust leader told us, for every case they treat at the moment, another two come onto the waiting list from patients those who didn't come forward last year.

Every trust leader, doctor and nurse tell us they feel a strong moral imperative to get through the waiting list as fast as they possibly can.

Chris Hopson    Chief Executive

"Behind each person on a waiting list is an often difficult story of pain and risk of more serious harm. That's why every trust leader, doctor and nurse tell us they feel a strong moral imperative to get through the waiting list as fast as they possibly can.

"The accelerator pilots announced today will help to identify how we can get through that backlog more quickly. For example, one chief executive wants to crane in two mobile operating theatres, which would cost £15m. Other trusts are looking at whether patients would be happy to travel to another neighbouring trust where there is more spare capacity. Others are looking at whether they can reduce length of stay after an operation, enabling them to treat more patients.

"Trust leaders are committed to finding different ways of building capacity, greater collaboration, becoming more efficient and using technology. The silver lining here is the opportunity to work differently inside the NHS and permanently change the way we do things, although that will need government investment."

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