Using diagnostics to tackle the patient backlog

In the second panel of our NHE: Backlog event, we looked into diagnostics and the role they play in tackling the patient wait list. In November last year the government invested £248 million into modernising diagnostic equipment to help improve patient diagnosis and care.

Professor Paul Foster and Dr Hari Jayaram from Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust discussed the damage the patient backlog had for their patients in ophthalmology, with some patients waiting that long their eyesight came as the cost.

Dr Hari Jayaram said: “The system for ophthalmology, which is predominantly diagnostics was honestly bursting at the seems if not broken prior to Covid, there were several national investigations into patients who had lost sight duet to delayed follow ups but just within the glaucoma service alone, when the pandemic started, we had to cancel 50,000 appointments”.

Danielle Joseph, Programme Director, The Black Country and West Birmingham Acute Provider Collaboration said that: “diagnostic waits were increasing before Covid and a lot of that was around workforce challenges, but the pandemic had a significant and major impact on that. Anything that wasn’t cancer or urgent treatment was cancelled and a lot of diagnostic services weren’t able to do what they normally do. If you look at performance on diagnostic waits around quarter one of 2020, we went from 98% to around 60% which is a significant drop.”

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