North East and North Cumbria ICS innovations to reduce waiting lists

North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System has shared how a range of digital tools and innovations are supporting its aim to reduce their waiting list backlog.

A new diagnostic centre, surgical equipment, support for patients to be ‘waiting well’, and a digital endoscopy unit are some of the initiatives introduced across the ICS.

At University Hospital of North Tees a new digital endoscopy one-stop shop means many patients can be examined as outpatients, said to avoid hospital admission and potentially speed up diagnoses of cancer.

Operating theatres at Wansbeck Hospital have had an upgrade of £5.5 million to improve the patient experience, through a new and advanced laser treatment to treat bladder cancer tumours which can be also be accomplished as an outpatients procedure.

County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust has introduced a new Wellbeing for the Time Being team, which offers patients ‘extra support’ while they are on the waiting list for surgery. The ‘waiting well’ initiative is set to be rolled out across the region.

At Middlesbrough’s James Cook Hospital, a uniportal robotic lung surgery has been introduced to remove several lung tumours in a single incision the ICS says, aiming to get patients walking on the same day.

A new treatment centre at the Newcastle Freeman Hospital will aid complex procedures that need more than a day to be carried out, while also freeing up many operating theatres.

An investment of £10 million to design an advanced integrated diagnostic centre has taken place at South Tyneside District Hospital, providing access to equipment for CT, MRI and PET-CT scans.

Dr Neil O’Brien, Medical Director at the NHS’s North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board, stated that “nobody wants to see patients waiting too long for treatment, so it’s great to see the number of long waits coming down. Staff are still working incredibly hard, and working smarter than ever thanks to a whole range of innovations.”

He added: “Emergency surgery and cancer treatment never stopped, but hospitals were instructed to pause outpatient appointments and non-urgent surgery to focus on fighting the pandemic. We still have a long way to go, but our staff deserve a huge vote of thanks for the progress we have made.”