NHS Sets Out Next Stage of Covid Recovery Plan
Guidance to support hospitals with covid recovery over the next six months has been set out today, as the NHS continues to make progress against the COVID backlog ahead of a busy winter period.
The NHS Operational Planning Guidance, published ahead of the NHS board meeting, outlines how hospitals should eliminate long waits in emergency departments, improve discharge to free up beds quicker, while continuing to deliver more elective activity.
Mental health and wellbeing support for NHS staff affected by their experiences during the pandemic will continue to be prioritised.
The package includes continued financial support so patients can get immediate care when discharged from hospital, helping to free up bed numbers.
The programme guarantees four weeks of care for patients discharged from hospital so they can leave as soon as they are medically ready.
More patients are also set to benefit from booked appointments in A&E when they call 111.
The NHS will also continue to make headway on the COVID backlog, with £1 billion being made available to identify and implement ways hospitals can quickly increase the number of operations they perform.
People on the waiting list with the greatest clinical need will continue to be prioritised, while hospitals will aim to eliminate cases of people waiting more than two years by March.
The announcement comes alongside a warning that flu cases could be 50% higher than usual this winter, with hospitals needing to continue to treat covid patients.
It also follows the toughest summer on record for NHS staff, who helped perform 3.9 million diagnostic tests and saw 2.6million patients needing elective care over June and July, all while dealing with a fivefold increase in covid patients.
The NHS is urging the public to play their part by booking their booster vaccine or their flu vaccine as soon as they are invited to ensure they get extra protection ahead of winter.
Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for the NHS in England, said:
“NHS staff pulled out all the stops over the summer, making maximum use of the resources made available getting jabs into arms, delivering millions more tests, checks, treatments and operations than they did last year, all while caring for seriously ill covid patients and almost record levels of patients in A&E.
“With more patients expected to come forward for care in the coming months and flu cases also expected to be high, this could be the NHS’ toughest winter yet, and staff will continue to work around the clock to make the best possible use of government funding so patients receive care as quickly as possible.
“Our plan for the next six months of the year will mean hospitals continue to do as many elective procedures as possible alongside dealing with this expected spike in winter demand, so I urge anyone who needs the NHS to come forward, including through NHS 111 Online so that staff can help you with the best option for your care”.
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