NHS Waiting Times – The Problem
The NHS faces an unprecedented challenge as the country begins to live with Coronavirus. Although social distancing restrictions have been scrapped, we are not out of the woods yet, and this is extremely apparent when looking at the NHS waiting lists for standard treatment and procedures.
When reviewing the most up to date NHS data from their recently published Statistical Press Notice we can see that at the end of September 2021, 66.5% of patients waiting to start treatment (incomplete pathways) were waiting up to 18 weeks, thus not meeting the 92% standard. In fact, the NHS hasn’t managed to get anywhere close to the 92% target since 2016, with the % of patients being seen within 18 weeks dropping to around 47% in August 2020, the most incomplete pathways recorded since records began.
The number of people waiting for hospital treatment in England has hit a record high of 5.8million, with over 300,000 of these patients already waiting more than 52 weeks for an appointment. The current waiting list is now significantly growing each month as hospitals around the country continue to suffer the ill effects that Covid has left in its wake. We are seeing a rough increase of around 150,000 patients being added to the waiting list each month as more and more patients who previously had appointments and surgeries cancelled are added back onto the ever-growing waiting list.
As we know, hospitals are still under immense pressure, especially as we enter the winter months. Hospitals are facing staff shortages and overwhelming demand for care at a critical time of the year. With the prospect of the demand slowing extremely unlikely, it must be time for a reaction that could stem the flow of hospital care and relieve pressure on an already inundated health service.
Kinesis Advice & Guidance – The Solution
Kinesis Advice & Guidance is a web-based application used across the Southeast of England to prevent unnecessary hospital referrals by connecting primary and secondary care to communicate around a patients care. Kinesis and national Advice & Guidance data shows that 60% of A&G conversations can save a secondary care referral. We strongly believe that this process holds the answer to breaking the current backlog and providing faster treatment times for patients in a local setting.
As seen in the Kinesis data throughout the pandemic, we saw a huge increase in usage that correlates with the peak waves of infection. As patients could not be referred to hospitals, it become imperative that systems like Kinesis were utilised to their full potential in order to provide a high level of care in the community.
Kinesis recognise that not every patient case can be vetted using Advice & Guidance for referral, some patients will require surgery and hospital treatment as a last resort and this cohort of referrals are unavoidable, however, Kinesis also recognises that a huge percentage of referrals can be avoided.
Kinesis has seen around 120,000 patient-related conversations pass through the system; 55% of these conversations resulted in no onward referral being made and allowed our primary care clinicians to treat over 66,000 patients in a local setting
For context, if half of the 5.8 million patients had been through a Kinesis Advice & Guidance process, we would expect to see around 1,740,000 of these patients treated in a local setting with no onward referral needed. That is nearly 1/3 of all patients currently waiting for treatment in England alone – a priceless improvement inpatient care at a time our NHS needs it the most.
NHS England has recently published their new Priorities and Operational Planning Guidance for the next year. The planning guidance has a strong emphasis on the use of Clinical Advice and Guidance and has mandated that “A minimum of 12 advice and guidance requests should be delivered per 100 outpatient first attendances, or equivalent via other triage approaches, by March 2022”. It is now the responsibility of our CCGs, ICSs and NHS Trusts to proactively introduce the use of Advice & Guidance as a pillar of the referral process in order to support our NHS to get back to a level of normality.
To find out more about Kinesis Advice & Guidance and how we actively help our hospitals to reduce the burden on secondary care, why not book a demonstration here or contact the team using our support email address, email@example.com.