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November 2, 2023

NHS to expand its partnership with the Independent sector to help cut waiting lists

Healthcare NewsInsight

Will Marshall, Head of Legal and Risk Management

NHS to expand its partnership with the Independent sector to help cut waiting lists

In his keynote address to the Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN) Annual Summit on Tuesday ( 31 October), the Health and Social Care Secretary, Steve Barclay, reiterated his strong support for a further expansion of the NHS’ partnership with the independent sector in the drive to reduce the post-pandemic backlog in patients waiting for elective surgery. Partnering with the independent sector to help cut waiting lists - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

The Health Secretary’s address followed hot on the heels of the announcement by NHS England on Tuesday that hundreds of thousands of NHS patients who have been waiting for surgery for more than 40 weeks, and who don’t have an appointment scheduled within the next eight weeks, will be offered the opportunity to travel to obtain treatment at a different hospital. NHS England » Hundreds of thousands of NHS patients to be offered the chance to travel for treatment. This programme, introduced as part of the government’s NHS elective recovery plan, aims to provide up to 400,000 eligible patients with the choice to specify how far they are prepared to travel, whether it be 50 miles, 100 miles, or nationally. Hospitals will contact patients to see how far they’re willing to travel and will then explore if alternative hospitals (including independent sector hospitals) have available capacity to expedite their care.

In his address to the IHPN, the Health Secretary expressed his confidence that the new initiative would help patients access treatment more quickly by using all available capacity across the NHS and independent sector.

This move marks a further significant development in the growing importance of the role being played by independent hospitals in providing care to NHS patients. It follows other initiatives such as the government giving patients a choice of 5 providers at GP referrals, including those from the independent sector, and the independent sector’s involvement in setting up and running several of the new Community Diagnostic Centres (CDCs) that are springing up across the country to increase MRI and CT scanning capacity.

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