NHS England and NHS Improvement are bringing in Sir James Mackey to advise on elective recovery, it was announced today.
Jim, the chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, will spend two days a week supporting the national team to find new ways to address the elective backlog. He previously led NHS Improvement.
His appointment comes after the Government announced additional funding for the NHS to cover COVID costs and provide millions more health checks, treatments, procedures and operations over the next few years.
The NHS is already pulling out all the stops to help as many patients as possible with many benefitting from accessing millions more health checks, operations and procedures this summer than the same time last year.
That is despite caring for COVID patients in hospital, the number of which has grown from under 800 at the start of June, to more than 5,000 at the end of July.
There are now more than 6,300 COVID patients in hospital, compared with fewer than 600 this time last year.
NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “NHS staff have responded magnificently to the COVID pandemic, from rapidly developing safe ways of delivering care to doubling critical care capacity and, of course, successfully rolling out the NHS vaccination programme.
“Caring for more than 450,000 people with COVID in hospital has inevitably disrupted treatment for less urgent cases and many patients put off coming forward for help during the waves of infections.
“But staff have been pulling out all the stops to restore services and address the backlogs that have inevitably built up and the NHS now has welcome certainty over funding for the rest of this year.
“Sir James, who is respected across the health service, will use his skills and experience to help ensure that the NHS does everything in its power to deliver maximum patient benefit in return and continues to make best possible use of taxpayers’ cash.”
Sir James Mackey, NHS England and NHS Improvement elective recovery adviser, said: “NHS staff have done a great job of dealing with COVID and now face a daunting task as we seek to help patients who have put off seeking help or had care disrupted.
“However, the NHS COVID vaccination programme, the biggest and most successful in our history, shows that the health service can mobilise together to tackle some of the biggest challenges when the investment is available to do so.
“I look forward to working with colleagues at NHS England and NHS Improvement to ensure this additional investment to tackle elective backlogs is utilised to help as many patients as possible.”
NHS England and NHS Improvement have already put £160 million into a series of ‘accelerator’ sites trialling new ways of delivering care and making investment go further.
They have included a high-volume cataract service, one stop testing facilities, greater access to specialist advice for GPs and pop-up clinics so patients can be seen and discharged closer to home.