The NHS in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) is aiming to carry out extra operations and outpatient appointments this summer as part of plans to restore routine care after the pandemic.
Surgeons, GPs, nurses, therapists and other clinical staff across the health system are pulling out all the stops to treat more patients who have had to wait longer than usual for treatment.
Across the first and second waves of Covid-19, many non-urgent operations were postponed to prioritise the most urgent cases and maintain incredibly high standards of infection control.
As part of the national elective accelerator programme, NHS organisations across the area are working together to tackle the backlog. A series of innovations will be deployed to keep people well before and after surgery and maximise the time of clinical teams. There is also a big focus on minimising the amount of time people spend recovering in hospital, with more rehabilitation to support individuals in their own homes.
Integrated post-operative care and rehabilitation will be provided by hospital and community clinicians. There is also a big effort to prioritise those with the greatest clinical need, while ensuring that patients continuing to wait receive regular support and information.
- GPs holding video consultations to support patients to lose weight, give up smoking, and make sure they’re on the right medicines so that they are in the best possible condition for surgery.
- Staff from different organisations joining forces on multi-disciplinary teams to plan together around the needs of each person.
- More remote (online) outpatient appointments, with 30 per cent already carried out in this way.
- Expanding surgery into evenings and weekends to make the most of theatres.
- Expanding a “Hospital at Home” service in which individuals recover from surgery on a “virtual ward” in their own home with regular visits from specialist nurses and therapists and, in time, virtual consultations with doctors.
- New smartphone apps to access advice on managing conditions, with access to services when people need them.
Evelyn Barker, Deputy Chief Executive at North Bristol NHS Trust and system lead for the BNSSG accelerator programme, said:
“Sadly the pandemic has meant many people waiting much longer for planned treatment. However, we have also learned a lot, and colleagues across our area are embracing innovative and creative ways to recover services as quickly as possible.
This is a huge task and will take time, but we are pulling out all the stops to treat more patients whilst ensuring the wellbeing of our dedicated staff.”
Cathy Daffada, who is leading the work for community provider Sirona care & health, said:
“Working together, we will ensure care is wrapped around the individual to keep them safe at home and help them achieve their goals. We are also really excited to have an innovative digital solution to support people’s journey through the different services from hospital to community. This improved communication for clinicians will have a positive effect for individuals as they will only need to tell their story once.”