The Fight to Repair Elective Care

The current state of elective care looks bleak. As I write this, waiting lists sit at an alarming record high of 5.61 million. On average, lists have increased by 42% – increasing to 55.2% in the most deprived areas of the UK. 

Tackling this is a matter of urgency, and we are now undertaking the toughest recovery project in NHS history. 

Everyone in the NHS, no matter their role, is scrambling to do whatever they can to help overcome the backlog. However, many staff are already at their limit after the immense stresses of the past 18 months. Pushing staff too hard could result in further burnout and lower overall retention levels – it is important that the health system does not neglect long-term improvement in favour of short-term successes. The government and individual providers must be realistic in their goals and consider the current capabilities of staff that are already exhausted.

Elective procedures were scaled back throughout the pandemic to enable staff to focus on the crisis at hand, but these delays have now turned into a crisis of their own. Even if the NHS could return to 110% of pre-COVID capacity, it could take 5 years to get back to 2019 levels. 

Estimates for what will happen next vary wildly, so how do we create realistic models that reflect real healthcare data as opposed to simply speculating? And how do we use data to streamline elective recovery?

Getting the crisis under control

Throughout the pandemic, the DSP has enhanced NHS forecasting abilities and provided accurate and actionable insights to help providers meet growing demand head-on. Deriving insights with predictive modelling aids many Trusts in gaining a precise understanding of capacity and demand, resource planning, and overall patient outcomes. 

Elective recovery will require strategic deployment of resources and clinical time. With the waiting list as it stands, we cannot afford to be making any guesses. The DSP will enable informed decision making and provide precisely the type of insight that will be irreplaceable as Trusts build plans to deal with the elective backlog. 

The DSP’s provision of advanced analytics to enable capacity and resource tracking allows patient care to be streamlined and has tangibly ensured that the window of opportunity for needed interventions are never missed. Backed by in-depth data on a provider and national scale, RwHealth’s DSP helps health leaders prepare for and manage crises through data visibility and innovation.

Enhancing NHS efficiency with data

The vaccine rollout brilliantly showcased what an efficient NHS can do, it’s time to utilise data to bring that level of efficiency to the entire NHS.

Patients on the elective treatment waiting lists are waiting for interventions ranging from tests or scans to support diagnosis through to non-emergency surgery. Having granular data insight into each individual patient’s needs will enable better decision making and help prioritise patients who are in most urgent need of care.

Enhanced visibility will also enable patients to be directed to other services that can support them, potentially reducing the waiting list by siphoning patients into alternative care options. Thanks to the real-time analytics of the DSP, providers are able to make relevant and rapid decisions as opposed to working from reports that are already out of date. 

The Government is establishing a new £250 million Elective Recovery Technology Fund to enable cutting edge technologies such as the DSP to improve productivity in hospitals and increase elective capacity. It is absolutely imperative for elective recovery that funding is used to expand the NHS’s data infrastructure to truly ‘build back better’. 

In the long term, the DSP will enable providers to shift their focus towards prevention, ensuring that a backlog such as this is never allowed to happen again.