Thousands of patients benefit from major NHS surgical capacity boost

Announced today, the NHS have claimed hundreds of thousands more patients will receive sufficient NHS treatment following dozens of new surgical spaces.

As part of the biggest and most ambitious catch-up plan in NHS history, around 780,000 additional surgeries and outpatient appointments will be provided at 37 new surgical hubs, 10 expanded existing hubs and 81 new theatres dedicated to elective care.  

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The news comes following the one-year anniversary of the Elective Recovery Plan, published to attempt to eliminate waits of longer than a year for non-urgent services by March 2025 – since then, staff have virtually eliminated two-year waits for care while December saw the backlog go down for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

Since the plan was published, NHS England have reported the NHS has performed almost 120 million diagnostic tests – 6% higher than in the same period last year – and offered 13.5 million elective appointments and treatments.

Alongside this, figures show elective care was delivered for 70,000 more patients in November compared to the same period pre-pandemic, meaning the waiting list dropped by almost 30,000 compared to the month before.

However, Senior Policy Fellow for the Health Foundation, Tim Gardner, claims waiting list targets in the NHS are still nowhere near where they’re supposed to be. He said: ‘There were 7.2 million people waiting for routine hospital treatment at last count, up from six million a year ago.

‘Behind these numbers are patients left in pain, and people enduring unnecessary suffering. The public and government must be under no illusion: there is still a significant mountain to climb before waiting lists are back to a more acceptable level.’

The new surgical hubs that will be provided to help more patients receive quicker care will be separated from emergency services in hospitals meaning tests and operations can continue in one place, largely unaffected by increased pressure in other parts of the hospital, such as covid and flu.

The Targeted Investment Fund, a £700m national NHS funding scheme, will provide almost 600 new beds specifically for elective care, dozens of elective theatres which will deliver state-of-the-art treatment and nearly 90 more critical care beds across the country.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Steve Barclay, said: ‘We have made great progress in the past year in tackling the Covid backlogs, but too many patients are still waiting too long for treatment.

‘These new surgical hubs speed up access to treatment for hundreds of thousands of patients up and down the country – providing 780,000 additional surgery and outpatient appointments.

‘Bringing together the skills and expertise of staff under one roof will ensure we keep pace with future demand and rapidly reduce waiting times, getting patients access to vital procedures when and where they need them.’

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