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Outpatient improvements: protecting and expanding elective capacity

Outpatient improvements: protecting and expanding elective capacity

Last week, NHS England wrote to Acute Trusts about protecting and expanding elective capacity, highlighting that significant improvements still need to be made within outpatients. The letter outlined that NHS Trusts need to support new approaches to increasing wider outpatient productivity and reduce follow-ups.

In addition, NHS England has set the following targets:

    • No patient in the 65-week ‘cohort’ (patients who, if not treated by 31 March 2024, will have breached 65 weeks) will be waiting for a first outpatient appointment after 31 October 2023.
    • Maintain an accurate and validated waiting list by ensuring that at least 90% of patients who have been waiting over 12 weeks are contacted and validated by 31 October 2023
    • Restoring normal levels of productivity post-covid has been challenging. With continued long wait times, a lack of patient-initiated follow-up pathways (PIFU) and in many cases, poor communication with patients regarding appointments.

      Samantha Sullivan, Delivery Director at Four Eyes Insight explains, “What we’re seeing on some of our programmes is that Trusts are struggling to get back to the basic good practices that were in place before covid. For example; templated slot reductions put in place through the pandemic have, to some extent, remained, reducing appointments available.

      There are also a number of long-standing issues Trusts are still struggling to resolve, such as, basic utilisation reports not accurately capturing the true clinical capacity, hampering visibility of core metrics and poor interfacing of IT systems that lead to a lack of effective communication with patients.

      In addition, the recruitment and retention of support functions in outpatient departments are a challenge and trying to meet the demands of the team has been difficult, especially with systems and technology not always interfacing well and limited resources for validation. All this contributes to a poor patient experience.”

      Data is king

      The question of what good performance looks like in outpatients doesn’t need to be complex. Productive and efficient outpatient departments are those that have embraced data and technology, implemented processes to ensure short notice available capacity is well utilised,  validated patients on waiting lists and improved patient communication – especially with those who may not have English as a first language.

      How can Four Eyes Insight help?

      As Trusts continue to work towards these outpatient targets, using our framework and subject matter expertise, we aim to support your team with the tools and techniques needed to reduce unnecessary appointments, clear backlogs and increase efficiency with measurable results.

      We understand the pressure placed on the NHS, which is why we work shoulder-to-shoulder with outpatient teams to implement interventions, optimise productivity and ultimately help you provide great patient care and satisfaction.

      To learn more about how we can help you improve outpatient utilisation and transform service delivery, contact us at