HOSPITAL waiting lists have begun to ease in the North West following delays caused by the pandemic.
Across the country, the number of people waiting longer than two years for routine operations in England has fallen from 22,500 at the start of the year, to fewer than 200, according to NHS figures.
NHS staff in the North West have been praised for employing initiatives to ease the pressure, including introducing virtual wards in Cheshire and Merseyside, specialist cataract surgery clinics in Lancashire and South Cumbria and a walk-in, walk-out model of care for children in Greater Manchester.
New figures show there are now just 463 patients waiting more than 104 weeks for routine treatment across the North West as of August 8 2022, down from 5,672 at the end of February 2022, with NHS staff working hard to ensure the remaining patients who have not yet been treated are seen as quickly as possible.
This remaining group includes patients who have chosen to delay their treatment or who need very complex treatment.
Dr Michael Gregory, Medical Director for NHS England in the North West said: “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.”
“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.”