NHS Orthopaedics Recovery Clinical and Operations Deep Insight Report – December 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the delivery of elective care and, as a result, on the lives of many patients who are waiting for treatment. In October 2021, the UK set out a £6bn plan to accelerate the delivery of operations and other non-urgent care to tackle the increasing backlog of patients requiring care.

Elective orthopaedic surgery is one of the worse affected specialties. As of August 2021, orthopaedics has the longest average wait time, the highest percentage of patients waiting over 18 weeks for treatment, and the largest volume of patients waiting to receive treatment. Delays in orthopaedics negatively impacts patient quality of life, with many suffering from debilitating pain that disrupts mobility, interferes with daily activities, and is associated with substance abuse and impaired mental health.

As recovery planning and action continues over the coming months, it will be crucial to understand how the orthopaedic specialty and clinical patient characteristic landscape has changed since the pandemic’s onset, and how this may affect future demand. As such, this report examines the underlying depth surrounding elective orthopaedic surgery, utilising our Health Data Science Platform (DSP) to generate detailed insights into the current admissions landscape at a national level, as well as changes to key patient flow metrics following COVID-19’s onset. Focusing upon metrics such as RTT, patient volumes, and measures of outcomes, the report explores how these compare between providers — highlighting strong performers, as well as potential outlier trusts to better understand the underlying factors within such disparities.

With an exploration of the impact of COVID-19 upon trauma and orthopaedics, the report further delves into the DSP’s predictive insights regarding the upcoming demand in inpatient care over the coming years, nationally and at a provider level.