System leaders are discussing pushing back the NHS’s target to virtually eliminate 78-week breaches from the waiting list by this month to ‘June or July’, HSJ understands.
The discussions come after the service missed its original targeted trajectory of clearing the backlog by this month, as first proposed in NHS England’s elective recovery plan last February, despite a steep reduction over the past 18 months.
Internal NHS forecasts suggest there will be around just over 10,000 long waiters still on the waiting list by the end of April, as HSJ first revealed last month. Senior sources said this week that this figure remained a likely position for the end of the month.
HSJ understands there has not been any official communication to trusts about pushing back the 78-week target, and it was not yet clear when the centre’s expectations would be finalised.
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Source: HSJ, 21 April 2023