A wide range of health care professionals, including clinicians from primary and secondary care, are joining forces as part of the Waiting Well programme, to address the need to support patients who unfortunately find themselves waiting longer than usual for treatment.

Dr Kate Wood, Medical Director, Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust and Nigel Wells, GP and Clinical Lead for Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership

There is a huge effort and focus on bringing waiting lists down across Humber, Coast and Vale through creating more capacity in the system. Clinicians are working tirelessly to perform as many operations as possible within the constraints of the coronavirus pandemic. We continue to work as a system so that we are able to offer time critical surgery across the integrated care system. However, the impact of Covid means that waiting lists and backlogs continue to grow, along with the number of patients waiting.

At the end of April there were 16,138 ‘Priority 4′ (lower risk) patients waiting longer than 52 weeks for surgical procedures, with the highest number of long waits in ENT, general surgery, ophthalmology, plastics, orthopaedics, urology, gynaecology and oral surgery.

Senior medical staff are regularly reviewing all planned surgical admissions to prioritise the most urgent patients for the surgical beds we have available, as part of processes that are clinically led and patient centred. This work supports our wider system planning for restoration and the longer term to treat the backlog of patients that has grown due to Covid-19.

There is growing concern both nationally and across Humber, Coast and Vale about the adverse impact on the health and well-being of those patients continuing to wait, their potential physical or mental deterioration, whether they will be well enough for their surgical procedure and the widening of health inequalities.

A wide range of health care professionals, including clinicians from primary and secondary care, are joining forces as part of the Waiting Well programme, to address the need to support patients who unfortunately find themselves waiting longer than usual for treatment.

Waiting Well has been established by the HCV Clinical and Professional Group and the Elective Care Programme to engage with as many clinicians as possible to better understand the risk, needs and health inequalities of patients on these waiting lists, by developing a single oversight of patient need through shared data and intelligence, and identify how we can provide support.

Health and social care staff are invited to get involved in the programme by attending our final clinical stakeholders’ briefing session on Thursday of this week to discuss a population health management approach to risk stratification of the waiting lists, and to explore potential support offers at place across the region.

By enabling clinicians to work together to keep patients safe and supported, the aim is to establish a shared ownership of care that will help to prioritise elective recovery and greater understand the health of our population.

Support offers are being considered for patients, which will avoid placing added strain on any one part of the system, might include social prescribing, VCS support, social care, community care, self-care, community pharmacy support and more.

Waiting Well has conducted an initial period of engagement with a small group of Priority 4 patients to learn about their experiences whilst waiting for surgery, as well as their wider needs. This found that half of patients have a co-morbidity and/or are waiting on another waiting list, 45% had contacted the NHS in the previous week, 55% reported worsened conditions and pain during their wait, 95% reported impact on daily life and 25% were interested in exploring alternative support such as voluntary and community sector support, whilst waiting.

Further patient engagement is now needed, and anyone interested in getting involved in this part of the programme is encouraged to get in touch.

On Thursday 17th June at 12.30pm the briefing session presents a final opportunity at this stage in the project, for clinicians leading the programme, to share the aims of the Waiting Well programme, the emerging intelligence and ideas being considered.

Specifically, the event will explore what patients need and what they have experienced, what intelligence is available, how we can use this data to stratify risk and what support offers are available for patients as they continue to wait.

If you would like to register your interest in supporting our work programme on behalf of your place or sector then please email [email protected].

Rebecca Hassack

Author Rebecca Hassack

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