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Shorter waiting times for ear, nose and throat operations

Monday, 14 August 2017

The waiting time for ear, nose and throat operations at Noble’s Hospital has reduced from 18 months down to eight months.  The improvement is a result of an ongoing review of when certain operations should and should not be offered to patients.

Minister for Health and Social Care, Kate Beecroft MHK, said: ‘This significant reduction in the average waiting time for ear, nose and throat operations is very encouraging.  Tackling waiting times is an action within the Programme for Government and this latest progress comes in addition to a recent increase in the number of people with suspected cancer being seen within two weeks, which has witnessed a dramatic increase following concerted efforts to improve performance.

‘I want the public to be assured that action is being taken to address hospital waiting times and that progress is being made as a result.  Whilst there remains much work to do, this is a positive development which I am sure will be welcomed by all.’

Work began in November 2016 to review a range of treatments and surgical procedures known to have low impact on health or to improve health only in patients meeting certain clinical criteria.  Health organisations across the UK, and elsewhere, have carried out similar exercises.

To date 22 procedures have undergone a rigorous, evidence based review through a clear, consistent and transparent process to ensure fairness.  This involves consideration by the DHSC’s Clinical Recommendations Committee and approval by the Minister.

Chief Executive of the DHSC, Dr Malcolm Couch, said:

‘The Department of Health and Social Care has a duty to provide the best care, for the maximum number of people, within the resources it has available – so we must make every penny count.  That means that, sometimes, difficult decisions have to be made about which procedures will be available and when.  We must also be fair and consistent, which is why having clear policies is vital.

‘We have been able to reduce waiting times without additional funding, so often seen as the only way to tackle this challenge.  Instead, following a clear, balanced and robust review – based on clinical evidence – we have taken inappropriate demand out of the system, speeding up care for those who really need it.’

The waiting time for minor operations has also been reduced to just two weeks, with a restriction on the removal of benign (non-cancerous) skin lesions.  This has enabled the all-day clinic to become a half-day clinic, with the doctor using the additional capacity to undertake endoscopy procedures instead, for which there is a much higher waiting list and much greater medical need.

Some patients may have exceptional clinical circumstances which could make a treatment that is not routinely provided appropriate for them.  In these cases, a doctor can make a request for the treatment through the Individual Funding Requests process.

A full list of the DHSC’s clinical commissioning policies is available here.

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