Trust leaders look forward to seeing forthcoming national plan for tackling the backlog

24 November 2021

Speaking on Times Radio this morning about the forthcoming national plan for tackling the NHS backlog, Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers said:

"The NHS is facing a significant backlog of care, including for planned operations and also mental health and community services.

"Trust leaders are all-too-aware of the vital importance of addressing this as quickly as possible, and trusts are going at full pelt to prioritise and treat patients.

"But it is very difficult to predict how long full recovery will take. We don't know how many people will continue to come forward for care after putting it off earlier in the pandemic, how many COVID-19 hospitalisations there will be in the future, and how quickly we can stabilise the urgent and emergency care pathway. All these impact significantly on how quickly the NHS will be able to cut waiting lists.

"There are a number of transformative ideas being discussed, but it is important they are described carefully.

"It is unlikely that people will have to travel across the country for care en masse, with most patients continuing to be seen in their local areas.

"The pandemic has highlighted what can be achieved when trusts work together and there has been good recent evidence to show that some patients are more willing to travel for treatment than originally thought.

"If the outpatient model is changed, it must be firmly based, as always, on carefully managing clinical risk. The risk of exacerbating health inequalities must also be avoided.

"We will need to see the details of the plan when it is published, but we expect it will be firmly based on principles such as no patients being asked to miss an appointment that they clinically need, and patients always having access to a clinician when they need it.

"Trust leaders look forward to seeing the emerging plan to which they have contributed."

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