ICS, News, Secondary Care

NHS England’s monthly operational statistics highlight use of tech

NHS England’s latest monthly operational statistics report was published this week, for the month of May, where it reported the third highest total number of emergency department attendees for May at 2.24 million, since records began. Among notable outcomes, waiting times were reduced in spite of high pressures.

The report highlights the use of technology, particularly the empowerment of patients use of tech in the follow-up process, and around 1 million outpatient attendances have been moved or discharged to a patient initiated follow up pathway.

On the pressure, the report notes: “The high demand came after the NHS’s busiest winter ever and in a month which included three bank holiday weekends, where we typically see more people coming forward for urgent and emergency care, and significant disruption from industrial action. These pressures are also seen across primary and community care and mental health settings.”

Despite this pressure, the report claims that the most recent data shows “NHS staff are continuing to make progress on reducing the number of people waiting for care, with the average waiting time from the date of referral falling to 13.8 weeks”.

The report in particular highlights significant progress in the area of elective recovery, in reducing the number of people waiting the longest for care, despite “operating in a very challenging environment with levels of demand continuing to fluctuate and ongoing industrial action having an inevitable impact on planned care”.

This is key to achieving the ambitions set out by the elective recovery plan, which aims to virtually eliminate waits of over 65 weeks by March of 2024. Indeed, the number of people waiting more than 65 weeks has been reduced from a high of 233,051 in June of 2021 to 95,135 in April of 2023.

Waiting times have also fallen for elective treatment, with average waiting times down to 13.8 weeks from 14.6 weeks recorded in January.

As well as working to improve the ways outpatient services are delivered, the report states that these improvements are also thanks to “making greater use of technology”. It highlights the empowerment of patients through increased use of technology in the follow-up process.

“Patients are being given more control to book their follow-up care, as and when they need it. Around 1 million outpatient attendances have been moved or discharged to a patient initiated follow up pathway – providing patients with more choice.”