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July 14, 2022

Plans are Being Made for NHS Patients To Travel For Surgery To Clear Backlog

These patients numbering over 6,000 in the long-term waiting-list, are being offered travel expenses and accommodation costs to be treated in other hospitals as the NHS seeks to clear its backlog.

The plan according to Health officials is so that nobody is waiting more than two years by the end of July.

At the moment, more than 400 patients have already said they would be prepared to travel. Also, NHS England has also said that three patients who were waiting for surgery in Derby have been treated in the Northumbria health region, with another two patients booked in.

Also, 17 orthopaedic patients from the South West of England are being treated in south-west London and in the coming weeks another 11 patients will follow.

According to Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid, the number of two-year waits have dropped by two-thirds since January.

He said: "Innovations like this are helping to tackle waiting lists and speed up access to treatment, backed by record investment."

He also pointed out that more than 90 community diagnostic centres have been delivering more than 1 million checks and scans in the past year. He further pointed out that with weekend clinics and dedicated surgery hubs, NHS staff were making "great progress" in clearing up the Covid backlogs.

But Dr Chaand Nagpaul who is the British Medical Association leader is warning that these attempts to tackle a "once in a generation backlog of unimaginable proportions" may be hampered by insufficient workforce and beds.

He also pointed out that doctors were "utterly exhausted" and their wellbeing was at "rock bottom". He has also said that he will tell the BMA's annual conference in Brighton later this year that the health service is "at serious risk of haemorrhaging more doctors", as many are considering early retirement or likely to work fewer hours.

He also believes that there is a "parallel hidden backlog of potentially tens of millions waiting for medical, mental health and chronic disease care who don't feature in any government statistics".

Progress is however being made as the number of people waiting more than two years for an operation in England has fallen by 15,000 from the 22,550 it was in January.

NHS latest monthly figures also show that this May was the busiest for emergency care, with 2.2 million A&E attendances. Furthermore, a record high nearly 6.5 million people in England are waiting for hospital treatment including knee and hip replacements, and eye surgery.

These backlogs were built up during the pandemic as hospitals had to focus on patients who were infected with the virus while patients who had other health issues had to wait longer than usual for their treatment or surgery.

According to Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of NHS England, "Millions who did not seek help earlier in the pandemic are now coming forward." She is also confident that by the end of July, the NHS would have eliminated two-year waiters even with the emergence of the Omicron variant and a difficult winter.

Ms Pritchard also added: “One of the benefits of the NHS is that hospitals can work together to bring Covid backlogs down together, and so if people can and want to be treated quicker elsewhere in the country, NHS staff are ensuring that it can happen."

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