NHS Recovery Summit held to help cut waiting lists

Health and Social Care Secretary will convene the next NHS Recovery Summit with health experts to help drive innovation across NHS

  • Summit will focus on digital innovation and technology to help deliver better care for patients and boost work to cut waiting lists – one of the government’s top 5 priorities
  • Ministers to host roundtable sessions across elective, urgent and emergency, primary and adult social care

The Health and Social Care Steve Barclay will convene ministers, clinical leaders and health experts for the next NHS Recovery Summit today (6 June 2023) to drive forward plans to help cut waiting lists and improve care for patients, in the week of the NHS’s 75th birthday.

Health and social care ministers will host roundtable sessions covering elective, primary, urgent and emergency and adult social care, bringing together NHS chief executives and clinical leaders from across the country and experts from independent and charity sector organisations. This includes the Chief Executive of NHS England, Amanda Pritchard, NHS England’s National Director of Transformation, Dr Tim Ferris and Dr Amanda Doyle OBE, National Director for Primary Care and Community Services.

Demonstrations throughout the day will showcase how technology in the NHS is transforming care for patients and consider how to go further and faster in embracing new technology to improve access to services, as well as boosting use of NHS 111 and the NHS App to ease pressures and improve choice for patients.

It follows on from the Prime Minister’s NHS Recovery Forum held in Downing Street on 7 January, which discussed a range of measures such as the expansion of virtual wards, greater use of pharmacy to ease pressures on general practice and more choice over elective care for patients, many of which have now been introduced across the health service.

Waiting times have substantially reduced from the peak of winter pressures in December, and since then the NHS has published the Urgent and Emergency Care Recovery Plan, the Primary Care Recovery Plan and the first ever NHS Long Term Workforce Plan to help put the NHS on a sustainable footing.

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said:

"The NHS is a national treasure and it’s important we take the chance to look at its achievements over the last 75 years, take stock of where we are now and look ahead to where we want to be in the future.

"Today’s summit is about keeping up momentum to recover health and social care services, by bringing together key experts to share knowledge and arrive at solutions to tackle the key challenges facing the NHS and social care, from embracing innovative AI tools to maximising the full potential of the NHS App for patients.

"I’m focused on improving care for patients through the use of technology to diagnose and treat patients more quickly - delivering on the government’s commitment to cut waiting lists."

Examples of the tech being demonstrated include DERM AI, which is being used to assess skin lesions for cancer across the NHS. DERM has been shown to be 99.7% accurate in predicting skin lesions as non-cancerous. The number of people being referred for skin cancer is increasing year-on-year, with more than 600,000 people sent for a skin cancer check last year, almost a 10% increase on the year before. DERM could help to triage more patients faster, which could reduce the burden on clinicians and help people receive the care they need sooner.

The government is investing in DERM and other technologies through the AI Awards, with £123 million invested into 86 technologies since 2020. Last month the government also announced an additional £21 million fund to roll out the latest AI diagnostic tools across the NHS.

There will also be a demonstration of cutting-edge medical technology that can help the NHS improve care, such as Rezum - a minimally invasive procedure that uses water vapour to treat enlarged prostates, relieving symptoms without the need for an overnight admission as people can be treated as outpatients.

Virtual Reality (VR) headsets will be used to showcase Hospital 2.0 designs, demonstrating what the new, nationally designed hospitals of the future will look like as part of the government’s New Hospital Programme. This includes a design that will be adaptable to a variety of locations, featuring an open and light environment, single inpatient bedrooms and staff rest spaces.

The landmark NHS Long Term Workforce Plan will deliver hundreds of thousands more staff over the next 15 years, and the most radical modernisation and reform of the workforce since the NHS was founded in 1948.

Significant progress has been made on elective care, as two-year waits have been virtually eliminated and 18-month waits have fallen by more than 91% from their September 2021 peak. Community diagnostic centres have formed a vital part of this effort, with 111 already open across the country and over four million additional tests, checks and scans delivered since July 2021.

In May, the government also announced plans to empower patients to choose where they receive their NHS care through the NHS App. Patients should be offered a choice of a minimum of five providers, where clinically appropriate, by their referring clinician, with information available about waiting times, distance to travel and quality to help them make their choice. Research shows that giving patients choice can cut up to 3 months off their waiting time by selecting a different hospital in the same region.

As part of the Urgent and Emergency Care Recovery Plan, the NHS has already rolled out 7,000 virtual ward beds to adults, and now they will be expanded to tens of thousands of children across the country to allow them to be treated from the comfort of their own home.

The Primary Care Recovery Plan included £240 million for practices across England million to embrace the latest technology to tackle the 8am rush and reduce the number of people struggling to contact their GP, alongside the introduction of Pharmacy First which will see pharmacists treating patients for common conditions, as well as an expansion of blood pressure and contraception services within pharmacies.

Work is also underway across community health services and intermediate care to improve social care this winter and beyond, supported by the Better Care Fund – including £1.6 billion of discharge funding over the next two years to ensure patients can leave hospital as soon as they’re ready.

Department of Health and Social Care
The Rt Hon Steve Barclay MP