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Government rejects proposal for integrated backlog recovery plan

Government rejects proposal for integrated plan for backlog recovery

By Jess Hacker
16 May 2022

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The Government has rejected MPs’ recommendation to adopt a ‘broader’ backlog recovery plan to be delivered by Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) and involving services from across the sector.

The recommendation had urged the DHSC to pull together an NHS recovery plan that goes ‘beyond the elective backlog’ by April 2022, and called for it to be delivered by ICBs.

The committee called for a plan that was ‘sensitive to the needs of local population and that it should involve health services from all sectors including primary, and social care’ in December 2021.

However, the Government has now rejected the proposal, referring instead to its existing backlog recovery plan, published in February, the Long Term Plan and allocated funding.

Jeremy Hunt, MP and chair of the Committee, said: ‘In rejecting our recommendation Ministers have missed an opportunity to set out a comprehensive plan of the role these services will play in recovery.

‘The Government has presented us with a jigsaw of laudable plans and strategies, but has failed to produce the overarching vision that would fit those pieces together.’

DHSC stated that the delivery plan for tackling the Covid-19 backlog of elective care set out ‘clear objectives’ to eliminate waits of longer than a year by 2025, and to make sure that 95% of patients needing a diagnostic test receive it within six weeks by March 2025.

It also said:

  • The direction of travel set out in the NHS Long Term Plan remains ‘broadly the right one’, despite the pandemic limiting its progress
  • More than £8 billion from 2022-23 to 2024-25 has been issued to support those areas, with an additional £2 billion in the Elective Recovery Fund
  • Plans to address specific backlogs were outlined in the March 2021 Mental Health Recovery Action Plan, backed by £500 million for 2021-22.

‘We of course recognise that elective care is only one element of the system which has been significantly affected. As we move from a crisis response, the department is committed to prioritising health and care recovery and addressing the backlogs caused by the pandemic,’ the DHSC response said.

Mr Hunt added that that public health services are dependent on funding ‘at a level to match their crucial work’, but suggested they are instead facing ‘a real terms decrease’.

He also noted that the Government rejected the proposal to publish independent annual workforce projections, to help address the workforce crisis.

None of the Committee’s recommendations were fully accepted by the Government.

The Committee said it believes the Government ‘partly accepted’ its recommendation that NHS England publish a long Covid plan by the end of the 2021/22 financial year, however no date has been given.

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