NHS patients in England who have been waiting for more than two years for surgery are being offered hospital treatment in alternative parts of the country. Subsequently, more than 6,000 long term waiting list patients are being offered travel costs and accommodation costs in an attempt to tackle the NHS backlog. The aim of this is to ensure nobody is waiting more than two years by the end of July 2022. So far this has been well received with 400 patients already saying they would be prepared to travel.
How bad is the backlog?
Backlogs built up during the COVID-19 pandemic as hospitals treated thousands of people who were ill with the virus. The knock on effect was forcing patients with other illnesses to wait much longer than usual for surgery or treatment. There were 22,500 people waiting more than two years for an operation in England in January, but this has been reduced by 15,000 since. And nearly 6.5 million people in England are waiting for hospital treatment – a record high. Many of which are waiting for knee and hip replacements, and eye surgery. However, Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said:
“Innovations like this are helping to tackle waiting lists and speed up access to treatment, backed by record investment,”
Mr Javid also highlighted how 90 community diagnostic centres are delivering more than a million checks and scans in the past year. With weekend clinics and dedicated surgery hubs he said NHS staff were making ‘great progress’ in busting the Covid backlogs.
Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of NHS England, said:
“Millions who did not seek help earlier in the pandemic are now coming forward. One of the benefits of the NHS is that hospitals can work together to bring Covid backlogs down together, and so if people can and want to be treated quicker elsewhere in the country, NHS staff are ensuring that it can happen.”