Plans to cut backlog for NHS treatment and cancer care at ‘serious risk’ | UK News

Plans to cut waiting times for NHS treatment and cancer care by 2025 are in grave jeopardy, a dangerous report has concluded.

A report by the National Audit Office (NAO) found the NHS’s key targets had been hit by inflationary pressures, “significant” workforce shortages and productivity issues as well. like the reliance on the family doctor to take over the work of the hospital.

NHS According to the NAO – the UK’s independent spending watchdog, the UK has drawn up a post-COVID-19 recovery plan to reduce the backlog for patients, including those battling cancer. – but this is now at “serious risk”.

Government funding to help restore health services is not consistent with inflationarywarning report.

NHS England’s plan expects services to return to pre-pandemic levels as early as 2022/2023 – and can hopefully provide around 30 per cent more treatments by 2024/25.

But increasing activity to these levels would be a “historic feat” and would require “growth rates not seen in recent times”.

The NHS is currently operating at 96% of pre-pandemic levels.

Health industry bosses hope that by March next year, the number of patients waiting more than two months for a referral for urgent cancer care will return to pre-pandemic levels.

They aim by March 2025 to eliminate the elective care waiting time of more than a year.

But even if progress is made, people may still have a long wait, the NAO report shows.

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NHS England figures show the wait time to be treated at a regular hospital has hit another record high of 7.1m

To help achieve its goals, NHS England wants GPs to handle many cases previously handled by hospital doctors, the report said.

Instead of referring some patients to specialists, they are managed by family physicians, who receive guidance from hospital physicians.

NHS England believes this could avoid a total of 1.7 million outpatient appointments by 2022/23 – 1.1 million more than in 2019/2020.

But even taking this into account, the NHS needs to provide an additional 7% average annual increase in activity, the NAO said.

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Meanwhile, new community diagnostic centers performed 1.8 million tests between July 2021 and September this year – but an additional 1.9 million documents will be needed to reach the diagnostic target. Predictions are set for March 2023, the NAO said.

Efforts to reduce hospital follow-up appointments have raised concerns among some clinicians and administrators – due to concerns for patient safety.

NHS England has set a target of a minimum of 25% reduction in outpatient follow-up appointments by March 2023.

But only five of 42 regional health organizations believe this can be achieved.

Falling productivity is a ‘serious problem’

NHS productivity is 16% lower in 2021 than it was last year – described by the NAO as a “big problem”.

On average, employees don’t have to go through as many formalities as they used to due to increased numbers of sick people, less willingness to work paid or unpaid overtime, and redeployment between teams.

Productivity has also been impacted by COVID-19 infection control measures affecting operating room capacity and cancellations, along with the “reduced management focus of NHS Trusts and NHS England on controlling costs”. costs and rigor in operations”.

The head of the NAO, Gareth Davies, said: “There are significant risks to the implementation of the plan to reduce long wait times for elective care and oncology services by 2025.”

He added the NHS needed to be “agile” in responding to the results of the various initiatives in the recovery programme.

A patient undergoes a CT scan at the Royal Papworth Hospital, Cambridge.  Photo: PA
A patient undergoes a CT scan at the Royal Papworth Hospital, Cambridge. Photo: PA

But a health service spokesman insisted the NHS was “on track” to hit the next recovery milestones after “virtually eliminating the two-year waiting time for care and reducing it by almost 60%”. waiting period of 18 months in a year”.

“Staff has achieved this despite a higher number of staff absences, more COVID-19 patients hospitalized this summer than the previous two seasons combined, hospital capacity reduced due to problems social care brings patients back into the community and increases demand for urgent and urgent care services,” she said.

It comes like the Royal College of Nursing last week announced the first strike in its 106-year history.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak responded by saying the wage increase unions were asking for was “not affordable”.


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