Virtual ward

Virtual wards proving decisive in tackling backlog as NHS staff praised

NHS staff working in the North West are being recognised for their outstanding efforts in tackling the backlog caused in-part, and significantly exacerbated by, the Covid-19 pandemic.

The workforce have deployed a range of innovative initiatives to arrest the situation, including the introduction of virtual wards in Cheshire and Merseyside, a walk-in, walk-out method for children in Greater Manchester, and specialist cataract surgery clinics in South Cumbria and Lancashire.

Dr Michael Gregory, Medical Director for NHS England in the North West, said: “The innovation across the region in tackling this problem has really shown the NHS at its best.  Whether it has been clinics set up to manage a particular area of work, like Lancashire’s cataract surgery clinics, or to capture a particular group of patients, like Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital’s Walk-In, Walk-Out model of care, NHS staff continue to go the extra mile to make sure our patients are getting the care they need.

“At the same time, hospital services are being delivered with alternative models to the traditional ward based care, like the virtual ward service in Cheshire and Merseyside where patients are being safely treated in the comfort of their home where before would have meant a lengthy hospital stay.”

In support of wider ambitions to scale back the backlog of patients and the daunting waiting lists, NHS England pledged last February to completely eradicate the two-year waiters – a feat they pretty much managed.

Last month’s figures indicated that there were just 463 patients that had been waiting for more than 104 weeks for treatment in the North West – down from 5,672 at the end of February.

The drastic reductions in patient waiting lists are evidence of NHS staff’s heroic efforts in dealing with the backlog and that even in the face of unprecedented challenges, they have the gumption to go up against all odds and prevail.

Dr Michael Gregory added: “Reducing the longest waits is great progress and it is testament to the hard work and commitment of NHS staff across the North West who have shown the same drive and tenacity in tackling the waiting lists of patients that has built up during the pandemic as they showed over the last few years.

“However, we know there are significant numbers of patients still waiting to be seen and while we have now seen almost all of those waiting the longest, the hard work does not stop here.”

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