Over the next three months patients in our region will see initiatives such as a high-volume cataract service, one-stop testing facilities and greater access to specialist advice for GPs so patients can be seen and discharged closer to home.
New methods to tackle waiting lists for elective procedures include using virtual wards and home assessments, 3D eye scanners, at-home antibiotic kits and ‘pre-hab’ (preparation for body and mind) for patients about to undergo surgery. Also being trialled is Artificial Intelligence in GP surgeries (one example is automating GP referrals) to help with triage and ‘Super Saturday’ clinics – where multi-disciplinary teams come together at the weekend to offer more specialist appointments.
The NHS says elective activity was already at four-fifths of pre-pandemic levels in April 2021, well ahead of the 70% threshold set out in official guidance.
These procedures have resumed despite NHS staff still dealing with thousands of COVID patients, having to take additional steps such as infection control measures to keep patients safe and rolling out the largest vaccination programme in health service history.