Longest NHS wait times cut in the Black Country

NHS staff in the Black Country are being thanked as the longest wait times for planned treatments are reduced.

The wait time for scans, checks, surgical procedures and other routine treatment is now below two years – the first milestone in the most ambitious catch-up plan in health service history.

The NHS Elective Recovery Plan, published in February, set out how the NHS would tackle the backlog that built up as a result of the pandemic, focusing first on treating those patients who had been waiting the longest. Thanks to the hard work of staff across the NHS, there are zero patients in the Black Country now waiting 104 weeks or more for routine care, except in cases where patients choose to wait longer.

The next target in the Elective Recovery Plan is to eliminate 78-week waits by April 2023. Mark Axcell, Chief Executive Officer for the NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board, said:

“Locally, with a lot of effort from partners, we have eliminated all two-year waits for scans, checks and surgical procedures, except in cases where the patient wishes to delay their treatment.

“I want to thank our patients for their understanding and all our staff for their hard work in helping to tackle the backlog which built up during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our teams have pulled out all the stops and worked incredibly hard to deliver this milestone, with many patients being seen well under the 104-week time frame.

“However, we know there are significant numbers of patients still waiting to be seen, and while we have now seen all those waiting the longest, our hard work does not stop here. We will continue to build on this momentum to hit our next target of eliminating 78-week waits by next April.”

Diane Wake, Elective Care Lead for the Black Country, addded: “It’s fantastic that the Black Country has hit the first milestone in the health service’s most ambitious catch-up plan in history.

“This recovery is even more remarkable in light of the ongoing pressures across the health service, where there has been higher than predicted levels of COVID-19, unusually high levels of staff absences and significant demand for urgent and emergency care services.

“It has only been possible because the NHS has continued to reform the way we deliver care, working as a system to expand our capacity through community diagnostic centres, surgical hubs and virtual wards.

“The innovation with partners across the Black Country in tackling this problem has really shown the NHS at its best, and it truly has been a team effort, so thank you to everyone involved.”


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