NHS staff pull out all the stops to reduce waiting lists across Cheshire and Merseyside

NHS staff in Cheshire and Merseyside have been praised by NHS England for all their hard work to tackle waiting lists exacerbated by the pandemic, by employing initiatives including the introduction of virtual wards.

As part of an effort to clear the backlog of patients waiting for treatment caused by the coronavirus pandemic, NHS England committed in February 2022 to ending waiting times of more than two years, except in cases where the patient wishes to delay their treatment.

Other North West initiatives to be praised included specialist cataract surgery clinics in Lancashire and South Cumbria and a walk-in, walk-out model of care for children in Greater Manchester.

New figures show there are now just 463 patients waiting more than 104 weeks for routine treatment across the North West as of August 8 2022, down from 5,672 at the end of February 2022, with NHS staff working hard to ensure the remaining patients who have not yet been treated are seen as quickly as possible.  This remaining group includes patients who have chosen to delay their treatment or who need very complex treatment.

Virtual Wards featured on the BBC

St Helens and Knowsley virtual wards can help recovery, consultant says.

On Wednesday 10 August 2022, BBC North West Tonight highlighted Virtual Wards and spoke with Gill Telford, a patient who is recovering from pneumonia but was discharged from hospital and their care continued at home, thanks to the new technology.


Dr Michael Gregory, Medical Director for NHS England in the North West, said: “Reducing the longest waits is great progress and it is testament to the hard work and commitment of NHS staff across the North West who have shown the same drive and tenacity in tackling  the waiting lists of patients that has built up during the pandemic as they showed over the last few years.

“However, we know there are significant numbers of patients still waiting to be seen and while we have now seen almost all of those waiting the longest, the hard work does not stop here.”

Dr Gregory added: “The innovation across the region in tackling this problem has really shown the NHS at its best.  Whether it has been clinics set up to manage a particular area of work, like Lancashire’s cataract surgery clinics, or to capture a particular group of patients, like Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital’s Walk-In, Walk-Out model of care, NHS staff continue to go the extra mile to make sure our patients are getting the care they need.

“At the same time, hospital services are being delivered with alternative models to the traditional ward based care, like the virtual ward service in Cheshire and Merseyside where patients are being safely treated in the comfort of their home where before would have meant a lengthy hospital stay.”