NHS hospitals are warned they will face a fine if they are not at 90% of their usual capacity levels by October
- Sir Simon Stevens said services must aim to deliver increase in care in hospitals
- Sets out plans to address as much of NHS’s waiting list as possible before winter
- Thousands of non-urgent operations were cancelled at the peak of the pandemic
NHS hospitals have been warned they could face a fine if they are not at 90 per cent of their usual capacity levels by October.
The NHS will still be able to access private hospital beds until March, but a letter from NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens, said health services must aim to deliver a huge increase in care in NHS hospitals.
The letter sets out plans to address as much of the NHS’s waiting list as possible before winter and to reduce the NHS alert level from four to three, The Times reported.
Data from NHS England last month revealed that only 54,550 patients were admitted to hospital for treatment in May, which was a fraction of the 295,000 recorded this time last year.
NHS hospitals have been warned they could face a fine if they are not at 90 per cent of their usual capacity levels by October
A lot of routine care was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic and hospitals are currently thought to be running around 60 per cent of their usual capacity.
Thousands of non-urgent operations were cancelled at the peak of the pandemic and analysts revealed the NHS faces an ‘enormous challenge’ in catching up with the backlog of patients whose treatments were postponed.
Sir Simon’s letter, co-signed by chief operating officer Amanda Pritchard outlines that hospitals should aim for 80 per cent of last year’s capacity in September. This will then rise to 90 per cent in October.
A target of 100 per cent from September was outlined for outpatient first appointments and follow-ups. These can be done virtually or face-to-face.
This year, 1.45 million patients have had to wait at least 18 weeks to start hospital treatment for routine operations such as hip and knee replacements. This is the worst since 2007 and more than double last May.
Thousands of non-urgent operations were cancelled at the peak of the pandemic and the NHS faces an ‘enormous challenge’ in catching up with the backlog of postponed treatments
Patients waiting for cancer treatment have also faced long waiting times with 47.9 per cent of diagnosed patients not starting life-saving treatments within two months.
At the end of June, hospital bosses warned the coronavirus crisis could mean the NHS are unable to return to normal for as long as four years due to the treatment backlog.
Experts said they believed the waiting list for operations could rise from 4.2 million people to 10 million by the end of the year.
Group chief executive of Warwick hospital, George Eliot hospital in Nuneaton and County hospital in Hereford Glen Burley said: ‘It could be four years before waiting times get back to pre-Covid levels. We could see that. It’s certainly years, not months.’
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