Boost the economy by offering routine NHS operations at weekends – report


He health service should offer routine, pre-scheduled surgeries on weekends to reduce the record waiting list and boost the economy, a new report suggests.

Experts have at the Government to do more to tackle the NHS backlog to “get people off the lists and back to work”.

A new report from the IPPR think tank and LCP Health Analytics suggests that getting people on the waiting list back to work or working more could boost the economy by billions.

Taking people off the lists and getting them back to work is good for their own quality of life, and it’s also good for the economy.

One way the health service could reduce the waiting list could be to offer routine pre-scheduled surgeries on weekends, the authors said.

“Currently, it is rare for elective treatments to be performed on weekends,” they wrote.

“Better use of this time would significantly boost efforts to achieve a 30% increase in activity by 2025.”

The latest figures from the NHS show that an estimated 7.21 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of January.

The IPPR and LCP Health Analytics said there is a “compelling moral case” for closing the gap, but there is also a “compelling economic case for moving further and faster”.

The NHS and government have set a target of “providing around 30% more choice activities than before the pandemic by 2024/2025”.

The authors of the IPPR and LCP Health Analytics report said that if this target were met it would “produce an estimated production increase of £73 billion over five years”.

This includes £18 billion generated by people returning to work or increasing the number of hours they work, directly increasing GDP; and a further £55bn generated by work people do that helps others and society, but for which they are not paid – such as childcare, caring for relatives, unpaid domestic work and voluntary work, which “also indirectly contribute to economic output”.

The authors said the NHS should offer choice treatments at weekends, create “regional waiting lists” to get people to see more quickly and cut some routine follow-up appointments to free up doctor’s time.

They also called for more investment in social care staff.

Lord Ara Darzi, co-chair of IPPR’s Commission on Health and Prosperity, said: “The NHS has made real progress in reducing the number of people waiting more than two years for treatment. further and faster.

“This report also highlights a range of compelling levers that policymakers can use to accelerate progress.

“Getting people off the lists and getting them back to work is good for their own quality of life, and it’s also good for the economy.”

Dr. Parth Patel, senior research fellow at IPPR, added: “It is often said that we need economic growth to support the NHS, but right now we need the NHS to support the economy.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Eliminating waiting lists is one of the Prime Minister’s top five priorities and we are working tirelessly to support the NHS after the pandemic and a difficult winter, supported by up to £14, 1 billion for health and social care. social care in the next two years.

“The longest waiting times are getting shorter and more patients are getting access to treatment. The NHS has already virtually eliminated waiting times of more than two years for treatment, while waiting times of 18 months have been reduced by more than 80% since peaking in September 2021.

“We also opened 94 new community diagnostic centers that have performed more than 3.4 million tests, checks and scans since July 2021, helping patients get a diagnosis and access treatment faster.”