NHS to hold extra operations this summer to tackle backlog

extra operations and outpatient appointments to be held this summer

More operations and outpatient appointments will be offered to patients over the summer. - Credit: Pixabay

Extra operations and outpatient appointments will be offered to patients across North Somerset this summer as the NHS tries to tackle the backlog caused by the pandemic. 

During the first and second waves of Covid-19, many non-urgent operations were postponed to prioritise the most urgent cases and maintain high standards of infection control. 

According to figures from NHS England, in February this year 4,807 people had been waiting more than a year for treatment at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston (UHBW) NHS Foundation Trust. This is compared to just 19 in February 2020. 

UHBW is ranked 18th worst in the country for the number of people waiting more than a year for treatment. 

As part of the national elective accelerator programme, NHS organisations across Bristol, North Somerset and Gloucestershire (BNSSG) are now working together to tackle the backlog. 

The BNSSG Clinical Commissioning Group will prioritise patients with the greatest clinical need. Plans are also in place to provide more support to people before and after surgery, with more rehabilitation to support individuals in their own homes.

The plans include:

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  • Carrying out surgery in the evenings and at weekends to make the most of theatres
  • GPs holding video consultations to support patients to lose weight, give up smoking and make sure they are on the right medications before surgery
  • Staff will be part of multi-disciplinary teams to plan the needs of each person.
  • More online outpatient appointments will be held - with 30 per cent already carried out in this way.
  • Expanding the 'Hospital at Home' service in which individuals recover from surgery on a 'virtual ward' in their own home with regular visits from specialist nurses and therapists and, in time, virtual consultations with doctors.
  • New smartphone apps to access advice on managing conditions.

Evelyn Barker, deputy chief executive at North Bristol NHS Trust and system lead for the BNSSG accelerator programme, said: “Sadly the pandemic has meant many people waiting much longer for planned treatment.

"However, we have also learned a lot, and colleagues across our area are embracing innovative and creative ways to recover services as quickly as possible." 

"This is a huge task and will take time, but we are pulling out all the stops to treat more patients whilst ensuring the wellbeing of our dedicated staff.” 

Patients waiting for treatment can access support by logging on to https://bnssgccg.nhs.uk/health-services/waiting-your-hospital-care/

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