Patients waiting for elective surgeries will benefit from increased transparency and information sharing, the Government has said, although concerns have been raised about the plan’s feasibility.
Patients and their carers will be able to access tailored information ahead of planned surgeries including information on waiting times for their provider.
They will also be able to better understand their expected wait and clinicians will be able to link patients to the most appropriate personalised support in preparation for their surgery.
This could include advice on prevention services such as stop smoking or diet and exercise plans, to make sure they are fighting fit for surgery to reduce cancellations, prevent deterioration and help patients recover as quickly as possible.
‘At the height of the pandemic the NHS rightly focused on treating COVID-19 patients, but sadly it has meant waiting lists have risen – and the COVID backlog is going to keep rising,’ said Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid.
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‘This platform, combined with our record funding to tackle the backlog and invest in innovative diagnosis and treatment will help us ensure access to life changing care and support for people no matter who they are or where they live.
Despite the positive outlook presented by the government, many healthcare organisations have raised concerns, such as the RCN and the King’s Fund.
‘Nursing staff will look at this plan and ask where the staff will credibly come from to deliver it in good time. Hospital care improvement is not possible in isolation - social care and community services too, each operating with high levels of unfilled nurse jobs, require equal attention,’ said Pat Cullen, General Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal College of Nursing.
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‘Every response today - from health and care leaders and across the political divide - asks this government to get a grip of workforce planning. It is critical to the safety of patients. The staffing crisis is heavily of their making and they must be accountable for fixing it. Too many of our members are considering their career choice this year and measures to keep them in post, including fairer pay, must be announced at speed.’
‘This is a welcome plan, but the NHS will need more staff to make it a reality,’ said Richard Murray, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund.
‘The plan brings together a series of initiatives that, if successfully implemented, will improve access to services for the many patients anxiously waiting for care in pain and discomfort. But, as this plan notes, it is important to recognise that the NHS backlog is bigger than the people waiting for planned hospital care – mental health and community services are also facing backlogs of care, and the pressure on general practice is leaving many people struggling to get an appointment. These services must not be overlooked by a national focus on hospital waiting lists.