Integrated care boards (ICBs) and trusts must work to reduce elective long-waits and meet cancer 62-day backlog targets following this month’s strike action, NHS England has said.
In a letter addressed to chief executives and directors, NHS England outlined its expectations following the disruption caused by the junior doctors’ strike held in January.
It said that trusts will likely face a combination of pressures including seasonal Covid and flu presentations, cold weather-related presentations, staff sickness and the need to reschedule patients’ cancelled appointments.
NHS England urged trusts to ‘continue to prioritise the safety of patients’, including urgent planned surgery and other treatment for time-sensitive conditions, particularly fast progressing cancers.
It said the priorities from January to March remain for:
- All systems to deliver at least 76% 4-hour performance and category 2 ambulance response times as committed to in quarter four in the November planning round, supported by continued delivery of actions identified as part of the UEC Recovery Plan
- All systems and providers to deliver their cancer 62 day backlog reduction targets as well as achievement of the 75% FDS standard by March 2024
- All systems to continue to reduce elective long-waits in line with the ambitions in the Elective Recovery Plan and activity levels agreed in the most recent planning exercise.
The recent round of junior doctor strikes lasted for 144 hours from 7am on 3 January to 7am on 9 January as part of their ongoing dispute over salary.