In March 2020, as cases of coronavirus surged in the UK, NHS England & Improvement and the Government, prioritised the treatment of individuals showing COVID-19 symptoms. The NHS focused their efforts on ensuring that everybody who needed coronavirus emergency care was able to get it. Services had to postpone, cancel or otherwise alter the delivery of their patient’s appointments and treatments. Patients are currently reluctant to go into hospital during the pandemic as they want to avoid the risk of catching the virus, as a result of this there has now been a significant increase in the number of missed, delayed, and cancelled appointments across essential non-COVID related services. All these implications have therefore increased NHS services waiting lists and their backlog of appointments. The House of Commons report, Delivering core NHS and care services during the pandemic and beyond, highlights that the restoration of non-COVID related services now needs to be prioritised and that the NHS cannot exclusively work as a “COVID-only” service.
The devastating impact COVID has had on our NHS is horrendous, the emotional strain and scarring it will leave on its staff is unimaginable and the effect it has had on its existing and future patients is heart-breaking. Despite the government’s aim to vaccinate 15 million people by mid-February, the impact of COVID-19 on waiting times for NHS patients will be apparent for many years. The problem of managing the waiting list backlog is intensified with the challenge that healthcare services are currently operating at a reduced capacity, due to social distancing measures put in place for both patients and staff, it will be a challenge just to keep up with demand, let alone reduce the backlog.
ADI have reacted to the importance of resolving the waiting list backlog and understand that this is a long-term problem. The NHS Confederation has warned that due to the pandemic the overall waiting list could grow from 4.2 million to 10 million, or possibly more. (1) Therefore, the need to start waiting list reform is prevalent. MyPathway Waiting List Management is a digital health platform enabling two-way communication between the patient and the clinician. Waiting List Management addresses patients whose care has been delayed or interrupted due to COVID as well as the longer-term overloading of providers.
- House of Commons, Health and Social Care Committee Report, Delivering Core NHS and Care Services during the Pandemic and Beyond