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Providing the right additional capacity for backlog support

Funding for the NHS across the next year is going to place a greater emphasis on the rising demand for elective care and how to provide additional capacity with true value. The large numbers of people waiting for treatment, lost GP appointments and concerns have been raised from elsewhere in the health system (such as the CQC) over the longer-term impact to those who have missed important urgent treatment.

All this places an investment challenge, much further than in terms of estate, more so in terms of finding the best clinical teams to ensure that patients needs are appropriately met. A major question for the NHS is ‘who are the right clinicians to tackle the backlog safely, at pace and with an exemplary standard of care?’. It is these teams who add value, balancing cost and quality.

There are an increasing number of options available to NHS trusts to resource their activity. Bringing additional capacity into existing teams or provide additional high-quality teams to use existing NHS estate when underutilized, as is encouraged currently by the NHS, offers an alternative model to the more traditional outsourcing model. Selecting the wrong approach could prove to be costly. Some tried and tested options do not offer value in terms of quality and can create further care episodes and governance issues.

The growing number of patients that need to be seen will organically bring a higher number of complications, incidents and complaints that will have to be resolved.

Using a competent team who can circumvent as many of these as possible will proactively limit re-attendances and pressures elsewhere.

Recruiting internationally is time consuming, requires additional vetting and can be fraught with concerns. Using more junior grades requires additional oversight, governance, and training that will place extra strain on local structures. The use of locum agency staff is sufficient for keeping existing sessions running but has long been criticized from a safety and also cost perspective, resulting in the pay cap some years ago.

Specialist nurse roles are a practical option but, comes with additional pay costs and draw on the existing fully stretched nursing workforce. In addition, the use of a  NHS Trust Bank may not provide sufficient capacity for the specialities required. An issue for many understaffed trusts is that they cannot gain access to the right consultant in a particular speciality, with many long-standing positions remaining vacant.

The real solution is to provide the NHS with immediate access to additional clinical teams to work alongside existing teams in a highly flexible way. This model provides absolute transparency on governance when using organisations that have their own full governance structures and operate in an integrated way with trust governance, providing high quality, known and vetted clinicians that not only perform to high standard but are able to deliver high levels of productivity.

Medinet’s model of using expert NHS substantive consultants as part of a clinical team (all with appropriate competencies) typically delivers 20% more throughput than local trusts. Recently we have cleared the full waiting list for a dermatology backlog for one trust in London, with ongoing support to maintain this position and zero clinical incidents.

This focus is on quality and integrated governance. Using only the best clinicians and with strong clinical governance systems means we have delivered a class leading 0.07% incident rate in the last few years. seeing and treating over 100,000 patients in the last year. Medinet’s clinical and operational delivery teams are fully supported by a full time clinical governance team who between them have decades of NHS experience and form excellent and transparent relationships with local teams.

With substantive NHS consultants leading our teams, we can proactively identify and manage risks to ensure the best outcomes. This minimizes, misdiagnoses, unnecessary diagnostic tests unnecessary reviews, and reduces waiting times for real.

For many of the patients waiting for their treatment, there is simply not   the time to wait for the NHS to recruit or train additional clinicians. The early window of opportunity to diagnose and treat will be lost. Medinet’s own research show that 1 in 2 patients believe their condition has deteriorated whilst they have been waiting for care.

The quality of additional clinical teams will be essential in providing the highest standard of care, safely tackling local backlogs and ensuring incidents are minimised and any complications overcome in a single care episode. We already have that expertise within the NHS. Let Medinet help you use those skills to best effect for your patients.

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