Trusts have been set a series of “very stretching” targets to recover non-covid services to nearly normal levels in the next few months, in new guidance from NHS England.
NHS England and Improvement set out the system’s priorities for the remainder of 2020-21 in a “phase three letter” sent to local leaders.
It said the NHS must “return to near-normal levels of non-covid health services, making full use of the capacity available in the ‘window of opportunity’ between now and winter”, when further emergency and covid pressures are anticipated.
In recent weeks providers have found it very difficult to resume many services, with many running at well below normal capacity, due to infection prevention measures, staffing gaps, and other covid-related barriers.
The targets in the new guidance for phase three of the NHS’s covid response include:
- In September trusts must deliver “at least 80 per cent of their last year’s activity for both overnight electives and for outpatient/daycase procedures, rising to 90% in October (while aiming for 70% in August)”;
- “This means that systems need to very swiftly return to at least 90 per cent of their last year’s levels of MRI/CT and endoscopy procedures, with an ambition to reach 100 per cent by October.”
- “Trusts must hit 100 per cent of their last year’s activity for first outpatient attendances and follow-ups (face to face or virtually) from September through the balance of the year (and aiming for 90 per cent in August).”
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Source: HSJ, 31 July 2020