The government have announced a £250 million fund to provide 100,000 procedures for patients who have waited longer that the 18 week official target. There are currently over 200,000 patient on waiting lists breaching this target, with around 65,000 waiting more than 6 months, 26% higher than a year ago.
Ministers have accepted that a concerted effort to reduce ‘long waiters’ will mean that some Trusts will miss their 18 week admission target. It is unknown as to whether they will still receive financial penalties for such breaches or whether an amnesty is in place. Clinical commissioning groups appear to be split 50:50 on whether to enforce penalties over the summer.
Although traditionally hospitals have spare capacity during the summer many staff take their annual leave at this time.
Mike Singer of the Checklist Partnership said “There has always been an incentive to let patients wait once they slip past 18 weeks and there are no further penalties until they hit 52 weeks. This fund will help those patient stuck between the two targets to get earlier treatment. Our clients are currently calculating the effect on their waiting lists of the change in focus”.