Is your NHS service prepared for a post-lockdown deluge?

Have frontline NHS workers already been battling in the eye of the storm, or is the storm only just brewing?

For more than a year now, the priority focus has (rightly) been on managing COVID care and the roll-out of the vaccination programme. While other priority care services have handled the most urgent cases, many services have been practically mothballed since last year.

Most of us welcome the steps towards the lifting of lockdown restrictions. But the reality of reopening other NHS services when you have a colossal backlog is really daunting for some of my NHS clients, and the risk of burnout is real. 

As more and more people become vaccinated and restrictions ease, there is a real risk of overwhelm as people bring forward a whole host of other health problems they have been sitting on during lockdown. 

What’s the most effective way to clear the NHS backlog?

My NHS clients, including Primary Care Networks, GP Federations, and super practices, are already talking to me about what a service restart could look like.

While they differ in many ways, they each have one thing in common – their desire to deliver sustainable and resilient services. And many already recognise redesigning care may be needed to achieve this.

They can’t just go back to how they used to deliver services – particularly if the demand rises. So, we have to think smart and come up with a more effective and efficient approach. 

Why is change necessary?

If you think you’ll just go back to the way it was pre-pandemic, then ask yourself, were you 100% happy with your outcomes back then? If you go back to the way you worked previously, was your workforce sufficient? And are you equipped to cope with the surge in demand likely waiting around the corner? 

Are you happy with

  • Your premises?
  • Your staff compliment and role make up?
  • All aspects of care delivery?
  • Your existing pathways of care
  • Patient demand and outcomes

Even if you are not unhappy, this might be your chance to make strides forward with a better way of doing things. 

Focus on alleviating workload pressure

Throughout lockdown, I have worked with a small number of NHS clients on projects where the key has been our focus on coping with the predicted onslaught of work by finding more effective ways to alleviate workload pressure. Every project I deliver currently has at its heart that it relieves workload pressure on general practice by working differently or having different team members involved in care delivery. They all take a high quality, standardised approach to the work, without any unwarranted variation. The focus is very much on putting the right patient in the right place at the right time with a healthcare professional who has the resource required to deliver the care. 

We’ve delivered projects using this approach in:

  • mental health
  • wound care
  • diabetes
  • asthma
  • COPD
  • allergy
  • dry eye disease, and more.

What does a complete pathway approach look like?

Whether working with my NHS client or my Pharma, Med Tech and Devices Companies, a complete pathway approach means identifying and costing every step within the current pathway before then using my process to redesign the pathway and embed a new complete end to end highly efficient and effective pathway that drives high quality and consistent care without unwarranted variation. The pathways will then place the right patient, in the right place, at the right time, with the right healthcare professional and with the right resources to deliver the care required. This changes the focus from drug/device/appliance/technology acquisition cost to a focus on patient outcomes along with complete pathway costs, where they achieve the triple goal of a positive impact on workload, workforce and patient outcomes.

This is essential as a founding principle of gaining access to the right client base and shifting the focus from drug/device/appliance/technology acquisition cost to complete pathway of care acquisition cost. Without that, I often find we drive down drug/device/appliance/technology, and the patient outcomes deteriorate, driving more work into Practices and/or Hospitals. My approach delivers improved patient outcomes linked directly to a positive impact on either, or better still both, workload and workforce, underpinned by innovation. 

From there, the focus is on pursuing outcomes within the pathways; where the expected result is not achieved, we know exactly what the next step is. By way of example: 

I accept this is a very simplistic patient referral pathway, but it gives you an idea of the type of approach I have seen deliver remarkable outcomes. It’s really just about changing how organisations work to make sure they have a workload they can cope with. (And a workforce that operates in an enjoyable, resilient and sustainable environment.) 

Beat the backlog with a complete pathway approach

1.  Schedule a call so we can explore your challenges and identify the solution

2. We’ll plan the right approach for your unique challenge

3. Relax knowing you’re transforming your organisation into a harmonious and efficient workplace where staff are not over-burdened, and patients get access to the excellent service they need