NHS teams across Bedfordshire Luton and Milton Keynes will trail new ways of working to help develop a blueprint for restoring routine NHS care after the pandemic, as part of a new plan unveiled today.
Thanks to the agile way in which the NHS responded to the Covid-19 pandemic, far more people were able to access routine tests and treatment during the second wave of the pandemic than the first, despite hospitals caring for more Covid-positive patients.
With the success of the world-leading vaccine programme meaning that hospitals are now dealing with far fewer Covid cases, the NHS is now supporting all local health systems in England to treat as many patients whose care was unavoidably disrupted by the pandemic as quickly as possible.
To help find ways to allow the NHS in England to continue progress already made, Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care System (BLMK ICS) has been chosen as one of 13 areas nationally to receive a share of £160m in funding and extra support to implement and evaluate innovative ways to increase the number of elective operations they deliver.
Over the next three months, the local NHS will be exploring a range of ideas which can be rapidly delivered to benefit patients, such as:
- Extended waiting list initiatives to increase activity including evening and weekend working
- Enabling the provision of short term pop-up premises to deliver ‘Outpatient Convention Centre’
- Workforce Innovation and new ways of working in diagnostics and theatres
- Expanding Imaging and diagnostic capacity
- Fast track specific pilots for new and alternative ways of working across different services
Learning on what works well in the BLMK ICS and the other ‘elective accelerator’ sites will then help form a blueprint for elective recovery which can be used across the country.
Dr Ed Sivills, Interim Medical Director, BLMK ICS said:
“Treating so many Covid patients over the past year along with additional safety measures has inevitably had a knock-on effect on non-urgent care, but with the virus in retreat thanks to the extraordinary success of the NHS vaccination programme, our mission now is to rapidly recover routine services.
“Today’s announcement is good news for patients across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes, but also for everyone in England who is on the waiting list or thinking about coming forward for care, because by demonstrating what works well here we can help colleagues in every part of the NHS deliver care in a better way.
If you have been putting off seeking care and you are worried, please do come forward – the NHS has been open throughout the pandemic and we have measures in place to see you safely.”
As part of recovery plans for elective care announced in March, GPs, specialists and their teams are focusing on those on the waiting in most urgent clinical need and who have been waiting longest, with an aim by the end of July for all areas to provide over 85% of the levels of activity seen in 2019.
While initial indications suggest the NHS nationally was ahead of its plan by the end of April, the elective accelerator systems programme is an additional initiative with the aim of finding ways to continue this momentum over the summer and beyond.