Published by BBC NEWS - 5th May 2022

Patient having surgery

Image source, Getty Images

NHS bosses in England are urging hospitals to offer staff more overtime and tempt retired employees back, to help tackle waiting lists.

A letter sent by NHS England said tackling the backlog that had grown during the pandemic would require a “number of high impact actions”.

And many hospitals were already taking innovative approaches to the issue.

More than six million people are on waiting lists for treatment such as knee and hip surgery.

‘Greatest asset’

NHS England national clinical director of elective care Stella Vig said NHS staff had, in the past two months, almost halved the number waiting more than two years.

“We know there is still a long way to go,” she said.

“Our staff are our greatest asset in tackling the Covid backlog.

“It is essential we continue to support our colleagues, harness their collective skill and draw on their ideas to improve things for patients.”

Extra shifts

According to the General Medical Council, 21,000 doctors are due to retire in September.

And part of the plan would be to tempt some of those back by offering part-time opportunities to:

  • train students
  • run virtual consultations
  • help with follow-up check-ups

Other measures recommended by NHS England are:

  • removing caps on consultant hours – in some places senior doctors are limited to 40 hours a week – to offer extra shifts where safe
  • offering more bank shifts – overtime opportunities for trust rather than agency staff
  • increasing the use of NHS reservists – members of the public who have signed up to work for the NHS for at least 30 days a year – to help run wards, feed patients and provide support for the Covid-vaccination programme
  • exploring taking simple procedures, such as cataract surgery, out of operating theatres and into other parts of the hospital



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