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Innovation and new technology to help reduce NHS waiting lists

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Surgical hubs, new technology and innovative ways of working will help tackle waiting lists and treat around 30% more elective care patients by 2023 to 2024.

Backed by a new £36 billion investment in health and social care over the next 3 years, ‘doing things differently’ and embracing innovation will be the driving force to get the NHS back on track.

The funding will see the NHS deliver an extra 9 million checks, scans and operations for patients across the country, but it’s not enough to simply plug the elective gaps. The NHS will push forward with faster and more streamlined methods of treatments.

Surgical hubs already being piloted in a number of locations, including London, are helping fast-track the number of planned operations, including cataract removal, hysterectomies and hip and knee replacements, and will be expanded across the country. Located on existing hospital sites, surgical hubs bring together the skills and resource under one roof while limiting infection risk and providing a COVID-secure environment, with more planned to open in the coming year.

The NHS has been trialling a range of new ways of working in 12 areas, backed by £160 million, to accelerate the recovery of services. This includes setting up pop-up clinics so patients can be treated quickly, in person, and discharged closer to home, as well as virtual wards and home assessments to allow patients to receive medical support from the comfort of their home, freeing up beds in hospitals.

GP surgeries are using artificial intelligence to help prioritise patients most in need and identify the right level of care and support needed for patients on waiting lists.

The latest cancer tests being deployed across the NHS are also helping speed up diagnosis and spot cancer early on. Thanks to the hard work of staff, a quarter of a million people were checked for cancer in June – the second highest number on record – and more than 27,000 people started treatment for cancer in the same period.

Professor Steve Powis, NHS England medical director, said:

"Although the pandemic is still with us and we will have to live with the impact of COVID for some time, the NHS has already made effective use of additional resources to recover services. From adopting the latest technologies to more evening and weekend working, NHS staff are going to great lengths to increase the number of operations carried out.

The further funding announced this week will support staff to deliver millions more vital checks, tests and operations, so if you have a health concern, please do come forward to receive the care and treatment you may need."

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Source: 8 September, Department of Health and Social Care

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