Let’s hear more about how tech is bringing down waiting lists – and could help ease workforce pressures!
"It is certainly 'good news' to report the link between waiting lists and the benefits AI and robotics could bring to easing workforce pressures." Greg Allen, CEO, Future Care Capital
It has been widely reported that the pandemic has led to a very significant rise in NHS waiting lists in some areas.
At the same time, a robotics revolution is already upon us. Surgeons know it and are enthusiastically embracing it across the UK. In so doing there is evidence that this is bringing down waiting lists in those areas where robotic surgery is being used.
Unfortunately, we don’t hear nearly enough about this “good news” and in contrast we’re inundated with a seemingly continuous stream of waiting list “bad news” about their continuous rise and worst ever figures.
This is something affecting all areas of the UK. The latest figures from Wales show that lists have climbed steadily since the start of the pandemic and are up by 41%. But earlier this month the British Heart Foundation’s report, The Untold Heartbreak, hit the headlines.
Issues highlighted in the report are concerning. It says the reduced availability and access to cardiovascular services have almost certainly played a part in the excess deaths recorded during the pandemic.
Diane, is one of 66% of patients with a heart condition who avoided accessing care during the pandemic. She’s quoted: “I haven’t seen my GP or cardiologist since the pandemic began.”
Against this negative backdrop, Professor Stephen Powis, NHS Medical Director, is a very senior voice, sounding the trumpet about the benefits robotics are bringing in improving health systems and services, and people’s health.
His comments followed publication of an Institute for Fiscal Studies report which gave examples of where robotics have actually brought down waiting lists. The IFS report says: “Hospitals in London, Liverpool, Oxford, Stevenage, Coventry and Norwich are among those to have significantly increased robotic surgery during the last year because minimally invasive surgery allows patients to recover more quickly than traditionally open surgery. Use of robots to treat prostate cancer surgery has reduced waiting times which rose from four weeks to four months during the pandemic to six weeks in one hospital.”
Compared to the BHF report, the IFS report received little attention. But hopefully, examples such as Addenbrooke’s current attempt to raise £1.5million for a robot, and Scotland’s recent announcement that it is to buy 10 robots at a total cost of £20million will spark more interest – and debate – about the role of tech in health and care.
Amanda Pritchard, new head of NHS England, has been rallying the public to visit their GP in response to the rise in cancer treatment waiting lists. I’m sure she will also be supporting the message from Professor Powis to raise further awareness to embrace the use of robotics across the NHS.
It is certainly “good news” to report the link between waiting lists and the benefits AI and robotics could bring to easing workforce pressures.