Thanks to the dedication of healthcare staff across the capital, the NHS in London has virtually eliminated the longest waits for scans, checks, surgical procedures and other routine care, treating more than 1,000 patients who had been waiting more than two years, since January.
Delivering this target has only been possible thanks to the hard work of staff, making effective use of all available capacity through building new relationships and mutual aid arrangements across local areas, allowing for patients to be seen sooner.
From Super Orthopaedic Weekends, to High Intensity Theatre lists, NHS staff across London have developed innovative ways of working to tackle backlogs that inevitably built up through the pandemic and keep people safe while prioritising those who needed urgent care.
The linking up of systems is playing a key role in bringing down elective backlogs, prioritising care for those most urgently in need, including those patients waiting over two years. In June this year, North Central London’s ‘Super Orthopaedic Weekend’ saw nearly 1,000 patients waiting for knee, hip and other orthopaedic appointments.
Londoners were invited to ‘one-stop shop’ clinics at five local NHS hospital trusts, including North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and Whittington Health NHS Trust.
Along with the rest of the capital, staff in south London have been looking into innovative ways to tackle the waiting list for routine operations and procedures. Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust have developed a super-efficient but safe programme to maximise the number of patients treated in one day.
The High Intensity Theatre lists, known as HIT lists, focus on one type of procedure at a time, and take place at weekends. So far, the Trust has carried out 15 HIT lists and treated around 300 patients across eight different surgical specialities, reaching even more patients on waiting lists for surgery.
Dr Imran Ahmad, consultant anaesthetist and deputy clinical director for anaesthesia and theatres at Guy’s and St Thomas’, led the organisation of the HIT lists and said:
“We have looked at every aspect of the patient’s pathway in detail to see where we can safely improve on efficiency, save time and parallel process in order to increase the surgeon’s operating time, by reducing non-operative time.
“It requires a dedicated multidisciplinary team and lots of preparation, which is the key to our success.”
Dr Chris Streather, Medical Director for the NHS in London, said:
“I want to thank all staff across London for their unrelenting dedication and commitment to their patients to ensure they get the care they need, despite the challenges that London continues to face.
“People who have been waiting the longest are now getting the care they need, but this does not mean our work is done. Staff are working together across London to ensure we see all patients who have had their care delayed by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic as soon as possible.
“We know it is frustrating to be waiting for care, but the capital’s NHS is doing everything possible to ensure people are treated safely and as soon as possible. It is vitally important that anybody who has health needs continues to come forward.”
With waits of over two years virtually eliminated, the NHS in London is now focusing efforts on achieving the next target of the NHS Elective Recovery Plan, with staff continuing their remarkable work to ensure all 18 month waits are eliminated by April 2023.