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Virtual outpatient drive at heart of effort to end 78-week waits, says Mackey

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Patients at trusts with long waiting lists should no longer think ‘they have to go to their local hospital’ for outpatient appointments, but should instead be offered virtual consultations elsewhere in the country where there is greater capacity, Sir Jim Mackey has told HSJ.

The NHS England elective chief said recent efforts to abolish two-year waiters by July had meant a “very big” surgical focus. However, the next phase of the elective recovery plan would see a major shift of emphasis onto reducing the wait for outpatient appointments.

Sir Jim said: “Providers have been split into tiers again with tier one having national oversight and tier two, regional oversight. Behind that we will be pairing up organisations so that organisations with capacity can help those with the biggest challenges from a virtual outpatient perspective.

He added: “There still is a lot to work through [on virtual outpatients], we’re going to be testing the concept… We need to work through how all the wiring and plumbing needs to work. For example, what happens if the patient needs a diagnostic locally, having seen a clinician virtually in another part of the country?

“It would be great also to try and stimulate more of a consumer drive on this – encouraging patients to ask about virtual outpatients when the waits locally may be too long, so they don’t just think they have to go to their local hospital. I think this could really help shift the model if we can get it right.”

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Source: HSJ, 9 August 2022

 

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