Patients awaiting major operations are to be supported by dedicated NHS care teams in a bid to prevent last-minute cancellations which have been described as costly and frustrating.
People not being ready for treatment for health reasons account for a third of on-the-day cancellations, NHS England (NHSE) said.
These can include having a long-term condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure which has not been diagnosed or properly managed, it added.
Last-minute cancellations for health reasons are not only a major source of frustration and anxiety for patients, but cost the NHS and taxpayersAmanda Pritchard, NHS England boss
The organisation said its latest initiative, due to begin in April next year, is aimed at cutting the number of operations cancelled on the day and boosting people’s chances of recovering quickly from treatment.
The NHS Elective Care Recovery Plan will involve access to specialist teams of nurses, care co-ordinators and doctors who will screen patients and work with them to develop personalised plans in the run-up to their procedures.
NHSE said the plan includes “the rollout of more than 100 community diagnostic centres and extra surgical hubs, all backed by billions of pounds of additional investment”.
The organisation said earlier screening before operations will help identify patients with extra health needs who would benefit from more support before and after surgery, including help to stop smoking, get fitter, or use of mental health services.
The care teams will also help identify low-risk patients who do not need to attend face-to-face assessments ahead of their operations and those who can be treated in elective hubs instead of hospital.
This approach will ensure patients are treated in the most appropriate setting and free up space for those in need of more complex care in hospitals, NHSE said.
Amanda Pritchard, NHSE chief executive, said: “While treating more than 600,000 patients in hospital for Covid has inevitably disrupted routine and elective treatments, the NHS is accelerating efforts to recover services and ensure as many patients as possible receive timely, expert care.
“Last-minute cancellations for health reasons are not only a major source of frustration and anxiety for patients, but cost the NHS and taxpayers, so it’s absolutely right that we help people to get fighting fit for surgery.
“The NHS is committed to providing care for all so as we have said all along, it is crucial that anyone who is concerned about their health comes forward so staff can help you get the support and treatment you need.”