How the NHS is tackling Covid-induced staffing shortages

In an attempt to tackle NHS staffing shortages, which are expected to exceed 570,000 by 2036, retired doctors are being given the option to return to work.

Launching in autumn, it is hoped this initiative will help address the Covid backlog of patients waiting for appointments.

Retired doctors will be able to sign up for a new digital platform through which they can indicate their availability to healthcare trusts across England, offering their services for outpatient appointments. These appointments can be conducted either through virtual means or in person, based on the preferences of the participating doctors and patients.

Amanda Pritchard, NHS Chief Executive, said: “Ahead of the NHS 75th birthday in July, this new platform is an innovative example of how we are constantly adapting the way we work to benefit patients by helping to reduce waiting times as well as supporting staff.

“Using this digital tool will help us to match patients with retired doctors who we know are keen to stay working in a flexible way so they can keep caring for patients, as well as allowing us to expand capacity to see even more patients – and faster.

“NHS staff have already made excellent progress against our Elective Recovery Plan – and this platform will not only help us continue to reduce the longest waits but it will also help us slash agency spend, using the existing capacity of experienced doctors who still have so much to offer the NHS”.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Steve Barclay, said: “Cutting waiting lists is one of the government’s top five priorities, and these innovative measures will help our approach by matching the right consultants with appropriate patients and focusing on areas with the highest demand.

“Technology is transforming the NHS, and this digital platform will ensure that more patients receive the highest quality care from experienced consultants when and where they need it.

“We have already made significant progress in busting the backlogs by virtually eliminating the longest waits for treatment, while 18-months waits have fallen by more than 91% from their September 2021 peak”.

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