However, most healthcare systems are also having to cope with an elective treatment backlog. We know that in England the pandemic has had a significant impact on NHS activity. Waiting lists for elective treatments have become unmanageable with patients waiting far too long.

The challenge is that we don’t know the extent of unmet needs within the system. We know the number of missing referrals from 2020, but not every patient who missed a referral will return, so it is very difficult to quantify how much pent-up demand there is. We can also expect to see greater acuity (required nursing intensity) when patients are eventually treated as a result of the delay to urgent treatment, and also the later presentation of patients. This backlog will need to be managed at the same time as Covid-19 continues to cast a long shadow over healthcare providers.

There are several factors which could tip the balance either way. The widespread uptake of telemedicine has had a positive impact on reducing pressure on acute care. Collaboration across providers has helped to ensure that every Covid-19 patient requiring hospital treatment received it, and that the staff needed to treat them, were despatched to where they were most needed. We also saw rapid changes to clinical pathways, ensuring patients were only admitted to hospital where there was a necessity, proving that the NHS can be agile in times of need.

On the other hand, we could expect to see greater sickness and absence resulting from fatigue and burnout – intensivists and anaesthetists who stepped up to intensive care may be particularly affected.

At Dr Foster we believe that the data modelling can be used to help indicate what needs to be done, where, and when. In partnership with Gooroo, we have a designed a comprehensive Elective Recovery Programme. Gooroo provides the most advanced demand and capacity planning software on the market today. Coupled with Dr Foster’s expertise in turning data in to insights, and insights into decisions, we believe we have a comprehensive solution that will deliver whole system improvements.

This Elective Recovery Programme can:

  • help trusts and integrated care systems maximise elective activity by taking full advantage of the opportunities to transform delivery of services;
  • focus on delivering improvements across the whole system through surfacing and sharing information, measuring performance, and ensuring any part of the system that is considered the ‘limiting factor’ has the opportunity to publish performance data and dispel misinformation;
  • quantify what is necessary to deal with the situation, working with clinicians, services, hospitals, and systems to understand when (or if) good scheduling and waiting list management will make the system compliant;
  • model the impact of changing pathways, telemedicine, social distancing, a potential fourth wave, reduction in available capacity, and/or increasing acuity on presentation;
  • become a conduit for information sharing between the different parts of the system ensuring transparency and openness.

Most importantly we can demonstrate that the post pandemic challenge can be resolved, what that resolution will look like and what the timeframe will be.

Contact me at to find out how we can help you today.