Hospitals to share waiting lists under Labour plans for quicker care

<span>Labour’s plans would include more evening and weekend surgeries.</span><span>Photograph: Mark Thomas/Alamy</span>
Labour’s plans would include more evening and weekend surgeries.Photograph: Mark Thomas/Alamy

Hospitals would have to share waiting lists and pool resources under Labour’s plans to reduce waiting times by delivering up to 40,000 extra NHS appointments a week.

The party has announced that patients would be offered appointments at nearby hospitals, rather than necessarily at their local one, which would enable people to receive faster treatment. Hospital staff and resources would be pooled across a region and would run evening and weekend surgeries.

Related: Almost 10 million people in England could be on NHS waiting list

Labour has highlighted staff at Guys and St Thomas’s in south London using a high-intensity theatre (hit) list to perform more procedures with greater efficiency, a system that involves increasing the number of anaesthetic, surgical and theatre workers in order to minimise the turnaround time between cases.

By using two theatres simultaneously, surgeons can be operating at the same time as their next patient is being prepared and anaesthetised.

While on a normal working day they can perform three knee surgeries for patients, they get through 12 when doing a hit list.

The shadow health secretary, Wes Streeting, said: “Fourteen years of Conservative neglect has seen waiting lists treble and, despite Rishi Sunak’s promise, they are still rising.

“Only Labour has a plan to reform our NHS, get hospitals working together with shared waiting lists and staff, to get patients treated on time again.”

The hit lists focus on one type of procedure at a time and take place at weekends. However, Labour research has indicated more than half of England’s hospitals close operating theatres at the weekends.

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According to a freedom of information request made by the party last year, hospitals performed an average of 795 procedures on weekdays, but just 176 on Saturdays or Sundays.

Streeting added: “We will learn from the great innovations already happening in the health service, and take the best of the NHS to the rest of the NHS.

“That’s how Labour will cut NHS waiting times with 40,000 more evening and weekend appointments each week, paid for by clamping down on tax dodgers and non-dom loopholes.”

The party has pledged to spend £1.1bn to pay staff extra for out-of-hours working to deliver the promised 40,000 weekly operations, scans or appointments.