300,000 extra operations could be carried out every year ‘if surgeons planned holidays in advance’

300,000 extra operations could be carried out every year 'if surgeons planned holidays in advance'

And it suggests changes in scheduling, such as moving to shorter operating sessions, as longer ones were found more likely to end up with wasted “downtime” at the end.

It follows pledges to cut waiting lists, which are now at a record high. Latest figures show more than 4.15 million patients are on waiting lists – including more than half a million patients waiting more than 18 weeks for treatment. The total figure is a 66 per cent rise from the 2.5 million waiting in 2011.

Rachel Power, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, said: “Patients needing hip and knee replacements, shoulder surgery or other non-life-saving treatments should not have the uncertainty of a long wait for their pain to be alleviated.

“We are pleased to see new initiatives giving patients and their loved ones increased certainty over when their procedures will take place. This will benefit patients across the country and should in turn allow the NHS to make better use of resources currently taken up by having to reschedule operations.”

Professor Tim Briggs, national director of clinical improvement for the NHS, said: “It is thanks to the hard work of surgical staff that the NHS is ensuring that more patients than ever get the care they need.

“While waiting times for surgery are lower than they have been historically, more can be done, so it is important that we work with clinical teams to identify further solutions and share best practice.

“It is encouraging that pockets of innovation, like the 6-4-2 model exist already across the NHS and are benefiting both patients and surgical teams. 

“As the Long-Term Plan states, we need to ramp up these efforts where clinically appropriate so that they become the norm and so that we can address the variation that exists.”

Health minister Stephen Hammond, said: “Thanks to the dedication and hard work of NHS staff, more people are getting the operations they need, but nobody should have to wait longer than necessary for treatment. 

“I hope to see these innovative and clinically-led proposals – many of which are based on what is already working across the country –adopted by Trusts wherever possible to help plan surgery more effectively and improve patient experience,” he said.

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