The NHS’ ambition to reduce waiting lists for elective care has been called into question by the Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN).
NHS England and NHS Improvement’s 2020/21 Planning Guidance states that the health service plans to stabilise and reduce waiting lists for elective care and eradicate waits of 52 weeks or more over the next year.
This will include freeing up capacity through the reduction of face-to-face outpatient appointments.
It also wants to improve performance against cancer operational standards and ensure that at least 70% of people receive a cancer diagnosis within 28 days.
However, David Hare, chief executive of the IHPN, said that with its own analysis projecting that NHS waiting lists will hit six million by the end of the current Parliament, there needs to be a real gear change on the issue with a clear plan from the NHS on how to get waiting times down for good.
“This must include utilising the spare capacity available in the independent sector and kickstarting the patient choice agenda so that all patients can receive the fastest possible access to treatment in the setting of their choice,” he stated.