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Plan to scrap tens of millions of NHS appointments ‘could put patients at risk’

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Plans to scrap tens of millions of “unnecessary” hospital follow-up appointments could put patients at risk and add to the overload at GP surgeries, NHS leaders and doctors are warning.

Health service leaders in England are finalising a radical plan under which hospital consultants will undertake far fewer outpatient appointments and instead perform more surgery to help cut the NHS backlog and long waits for care that many patients experience.

The move is contained in the “elective recovery plan” which Sajid Javid, the health secretary, will unveil next week. It will contain what one NHS boss called “transformative ideas” to tackle the backlog. Thanks to Covid the waiting list has spiralled to a record 5.8 million people and Javid has warned that it could hit as many as 13 million.

Under the plan patients who have spent time in hospital would be offered only one follow-up consultation in the year after their treatment rather than the two, three or four many get now.

“While it is important that immediate action is taken to tackle the largest ever backlog of care these short-term proposals by the health secretary have the potential to present significant challenges for patients and seek to worsen health disparities across the country,” said Dr David Wrigley, the deputy chair of council at the British Medical Association.

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Source: The Guardian, 25 November 2021

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