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The capital’s NHS has now virtually eliminated two-year waits for patients, as staff continue to contend with high demand for emergency care.
Teams working in A&E treated 416,190 people in December 2022, up almost 18% since the same time last year (352,167).
999 call centres also saw increased pressure with 13,750 more calls answered in December (139,175) than in November (125,425).
Alongside this, hundreds of patients waiting 52 weeks or more for care were seen in November as NHS staff continue to find innovative ways to treat as many patients as possible as they work through the backlog.
Teams at Chase Farm Hospital, part of Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, recently pioneered a new approach to orthopaedic surgery which allows patients to go home on the same day. Patients are given the option of spinal anaesthetic and regional anaesthetic – which only blocks selective nerves that can cause pain – so they are able to get up and about more quickly.
With the same level of pain management and follow-up checks, patients can recover in their own environment, often where they can move around more, resulting in fewer complications such as blood clots and a faster recovery.
Other ways NHS teams are working to care for people in the community includes Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust’s ‘Hospital at Home’ service. The initiative allows patients to have their vital health statistics checked digitally, through virtual assessments, heart rhythm testing and remote monitoring so healthcare professionals can provide hospital-level care in their own home. This initiative also means more hospital beds are free for people who need to be admitted.
Dr Chris Streather, Medical Director for the NHS in London said:
“While we are facing an extremely busy winter, I am very proud of our NHS staff across London who are working around the clock to see and treat as many patients as possible.
“Initiatives that promote day case surgeries and virtual wards are allowing patients to get back home faster, after spending time in hospital, and free up beds for other patients needing care.
“As we continue through the colder months, people can support the NHS by staying up to date with their Covid and flu vaccinations, and by looking out for loved ones who may be vulnerable to help them stay well.”
With further industrial action planned over the coming weeks, the NHS in London urges people in the capital to use services responsibly and only call 999 in a life-threatening emergency.
NHS 111 online should continue to be the first port of call for health advice and needs, where advice will be given on the best route of care for specific needs. And of course, people can still get health advice from their community pharmacist or GP surgery.