I don’t know about you, but every month when the NHS Referral to Treatment (RTT) statistics get published and the media start churning out negative news reports, my heart breaks just a little bit more for every NHS Trust and every member of staff who has been working so hard under such challenging circumstances. If only they knew what goes into the planning and delivery of elective care…

Trusts are acutely aware of the challenge ahead but are still in the midst of treating patients with COVID-19.  From speaking with many Trusts in recent weeks they are working extremely hard to treat patients with the most urgent clinical need, behind the scenes as COVID-19 rotas disappear, they are planning how to best utilise theatre, clinic and workforce capacity in a covid-secure way to build momentum on treating those who have been waiting the longest.

The number of COVID-19 inpatients, the vaccine rollout, the return to schools and the roadmap out of lockdown still leaves some very uncertain about when is the right time to really build that momentum and only time will tell as we cautiously move through the government’s strategy.

I recently read an article, and one graph in particular brought into sharp focus the need for maximisation of capacity utilisation to climb the sheer mountain of patients needing treatment.  This against a backdrop of exhausted staff who have been working tirelessly with covid patients and understandably a demoralised workforce following the government’s less than generous pay offer must make those with the responsibility to recover the RTT position feel that the mountain ahead is insurmountable.

There are many capacity planning options Trusts will be considering, better use of technology, the introduction of patient initiated follow up, but the pinch point always comes down to the workforce to treat these patients safely.  This is where we would like to help, our consultant led teams can be provided to maximise the use of theatres and clinics at weekends and evenings to support Trusts to build that momentum and help work through those waiting the longest.

Those who have responsibility for RTT performance may feel like they are on their own looking up at that mountain, but know we are here ready to work with you to help tackle the climb one step at a time, and by building a strong partnership and efficient momentum on moving through the waiting lists, we will reach the summit goal of the 18-week target once again.

athona clinical services RTT waiting times HSJ article

Graph sourced from HSJ article written by Dr Rob Findley.

Written by Tracie Spires – Quality and Governance Lead for Athona Clinical Services 

Want to learn more about Athona Clinical Services and what we have to offer? Our experienced teams work in partnership with each Trust to manage the patient pathway end to end. We can provide teams for weekends, evenings or full 7-day services to complement and extend existing capacities.

More information about the specialties we cover and the service we provide is available on our website. Or if you would prefer to talk through your options and find out more about insourcing or request a meeting to discuss how we can help, please email us at clinicalservices@athona.com.