Healthcare workers in south Cumbria have volunteered to be one of the first of a small number of areas in the country to formally ‘accelerate’ the restoration of services.
University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), Blackpool Teaching Hospital NHS FT, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS FT, and Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS FT, will be working together to tackle their collective waiting lists during the next three months.
The initiative will be welcome news for patients who have seen appointments and procedures postponed due to the pandemic.
Many services have continued as near to normal as possible throughout the NHS, but concerns have increased about the rising numbers of patients waiting for care and treatment across health and social care settings.
Funding received, as part of the initiative, will go towards driving down waiting lists that have risen to unprecedented levels. The many thousands of people on waiting lists across the Lancashire and South Cumbria region are now a step closer to being seen and receiving the care or treatment they need.
Aaron Cummins, chief executive, UHMBT, said: “We have set ourselves some very ambitious plans as part of the supercharged Government initiative and, whilst there is much more planning and details to emerge, one thing is sure – we are going to do everything within our gift to prioritise and see as many people as possible from our waiting lists in the coming months.
“We’re acutely aware that the alternative is to run the risk that people suffer more harm while they’re waiting for their appointment. I have every faith in the teams across Lancashire and South Cumbria to take this on. Together we will do our best to achieve these ambitious targets, but it is a balancing act as we continue to be equally determined to restore our people too.”
Professor Mike Thomas, chairman, UHMBT, said: “This is tremendous news for the region, and amidst the logistical challenge, please be reassured we’ll never lose sight of the fact our patients are people and will always remain at the centre of the care provided.
“There is no doubt this is going to be difficult and pressured – and not least for colleagues who are already exhausted from their relentless contribution to our COVID-19 response.
“Caring for the health and wellbeing of our workforce, so they can care for the people of Lancashire and south Cumbria, will remain an absolute focus for us.”
The scale-up to see and treat many more people means patients may be asked to go where there is specific expertise and capacity to see and treat them quicker and more effectively.
They may be asked if they are comfortable to travel a little bit further or see a different person than usual to help us achieve as many appointments for as many people as possible. Of course, if this is something they not able to do easily or have reservations about, they will be able to discuss alternatives.
The NHS is working together in partnership across Lancashire and south Cumbria and with primary and community care colleagues. Although it is well-positioned to do this, it will take a considerable workforce to achieve it, and so the initial part of this work will be to recruit as many people as possible, filling current vacancies and bringing on additional temporary resource where appropriate.
Aaron concluded: “Together we will do this. We know how hard this has been for people who have patiently waited, sometimes in very difficult circumstances, and we would ask that people continue to be patient and respectful to our teams as we do our best to restart the care of as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.”