NHS England (NHSE) has allocated £22m to NHS trusts to increase elective and diagnostic capacity over winter.
The ‘targeted investment’ is aimed at supporting additional capacity in a range of specialities including orthopaedics, paediatrics, cardiology and gynaecology services.
A total of 44 NHS providers have been allocated funding to increase elective capacity, while 22 have been given money for additional diagnostic procedures.
NHSE said trusts with proven records and plans in place to deliver increased activity had been given the money.
It will be up to individual services to decide how to deliver the additional services. And although some have indicated plans to use independent sector capacity, NHSE said that in ‘many cases’ it would be used for insourcing work.
The Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN) said it had been working with NHSE to help bring the sector together and help support those trusts facing particular challenges around performance.
IHPN CEO David Hare said: ‘The additional money the NHS has provided this winter to help bring down waiting lists for both elective and diagnostics care is hugely welcome and, with support from independent providers, should help patients get treated much more quickly in the coming months.’
However, he added that it was ‘vital’ for the sector to develop long term partnerships with the NHS to address rising waiting times.
The latest waiting list figures show that over 4.4 million people were waiting for planned treatment in November 2019. It has now been three years since the NHS last met its electives target of 92% of referrals commencing treatment within 18 weeks.