Utilising independent sector capacity to reduce waiting lists

Utilising independent sector capacity to reduce waiting lists

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We procured independent sector hospital capacity to divert patients at the point of referrals from NHS trusts to prevent a build-up of patient waiting lists backlogs.

Background

Our Contract Management Team directly supported NHS Planning Priorities for 2022-23 by reducing waiting list backlogs as part of NHS England’s Elective Care Recovery Programme. The ask from the Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System (ICS) was to transfer patients from NHS trusts into independent sector (IS) hospitals, thereby alleviating the waiting list pressures on NHS trusts. An Independent Sector Coordination role was created to effectively utilise IS hospital capacity in the most efficient and effective way.

Action

We procured IS hospital capacity through the Increasing Capacity Framework which is an easy route to contract elective care services. This allowed us to develop and implement new models of working with ICS colleagues, including NHS trusts and IS hospitals.

A standard operating procedure to divert patients at the point of referrals from NHS trusts to IS hospitals was co-designed, by adopting good practice from other areas in the country and tailoring it to local needs and requirements. The standard operating procedure has become operational across several NHS trusts in Lancashire and South Cumbria due to its effective and efficient implementation.

Impact

Working in partnership enabled us to develop and implement the standard operating procedure to prevent a build-up of patient waiting lists backlogs.

The flow of new referral pathways which diverts patients from NHS trusts to the IS hospitals has increased by 200 patients per month on average for some of the trusts. These patients would have otherwise been left waiting for much longer for treatment.

The percentage of patients being diverted from NHS trusts to IS hospitals as part of this intervention is 90% on average, in some cases this has resulted in 50 patients diverted per week. Previously, on average only 30 patients per month were moved from NHS trusts to IS hospitals.

The work also provided assurance to Lancashire and South Cumbria Elective Care Recovery Group to effectively utilise IS hospital capacity.

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