While the pandemic is still not fully behind us, healthcare leads are already focusing on one of the key challenges of its legacy: the 5.1 million patients now waiting to begin some kind of treatment.
The number of people on waiting lists has increased every month since May 2020, when it was 3.83 million – and is now at the highest level since records began in 2007.
As surgery resumes, medical facilities are having to adopt a new system to assess a patient’s COVID-19 ‘risk’ so that the necessary steps can be taken to protect individuals – and, in something akin to the travel approach, Public Health England has come up with a traffic light style system to help quantify it.
This adds another layer of complication to planning, staffing and managing equipment resources – to say nothing of the additional stress for a patient in the lead up to any surgical procedure.
One solution that could significantly support the drive to reduce waiting lists for elective surgery would be to utilise same-day surgery departments as ‘green’ pathways and make as much surgery as possible available as day case procedures.
Many day surgery departments are separate from the main operating department – either as stand-alone units or dedicated units within main sites – facilitating this approach.
Benefits would include:
- Less risk of procedures being cancelled
- Elimination of unnecessary exposure to potentially higher COVID-19 risk patients
- Reduce risk of hospital acquired infection
In addition to reducing waiting lists and the demands on inpatient surgery related resources, this would give patients greater peace of mind, allowing them to concentrate on recovery.