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Post-covid pressures continue to emerge – this week’s Friday Five

The regional impact of COVID-19 on elective waiting lists

Last week, NHS England announced a series of ‘very stretching’ targets to help the services recover to nearly normal levels and counter the backlog of elective surgeries that has built up over the course of the pandemic.

However, even with these targets in place, differences in demand, capacity and workforce will mean that some regions will be better off than others.

In his latest feature in the HSJ, George Batchelor from Edge Health takes an interesting look at the waiting list data and calls for more to inform prioritisation decisions.

Read the full story here.

Demand for mental health services still to rise

A report from the NHS Confederation has predicted that the peak in demand for mental healthcare in England is still to come as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to emerge.

The NHS Confederation found that providers of mental healthcare responded effectively to protect patients and adapt their services at the beginning of the pandemic.

During its peak of the pandemic providers saw referrals for mental health support reduce by around 30%-40%. Now some providers are seeing a higher number of patient referrals than before the pandemic as the backlog emerges and the broader impact of COVID-19 on the public’s mental health become apparent.

Read the full story in the PharmaTimes.

NHS staff will be given COVID-19 passports so they can move quickly between hospitals to ease staffing pressures

NHS England has announced that NHS staff will be given digital passports which will allow them to move between hospital sites to ease staffing pressures in the event of a second wave of outbreaks.

The digital passports, which are stored on workers’ phones, were successful in five trials in London hospitals and are now being rolled out across England.

Traditionally, NHS staff have been forced to have repeat employment checks and to attend lengthy two-day inductions when moving between sites. The new digital passports will allow staff to move seamlessly between hospitals if they’re needed to increase workforce capacity elsewhere, and will also support staff to take on new roles and develop their skills.

Read the full story in the Independent.

Lessons from COVID-19

Over the course of the pandemic, digital solutions have become the mainstay for many parts of the health system and there is no doubt that this has been a steep learning curve for many involved.

The Digital Healthcare Council has been speaking with its members to find out five key lessons we should learn from the pandemic:

  1. Focus on integrating solutions

  2. Support and empower local users to choose solutions that work for them

  3. Avoid spending money twice

  4. Comply with regulatory standards

  5. Require and publish data on utilisation and quality metrics

Read the full story in Digital Health News.


Quote of the week

The King’s Fund’s ‘Technology and innovation for long-term health conditions’ report suggests there needs to be a process of reviewing exactly what happened in terms of the uptake of digital tools during the pandemic with the following recommendation:

“When the dust settles, we will need to reflect on the lessons from this period on the nature of innovation in the NHS.”

Read the full report here.

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