Health leaders welcome new Elective Recovery Taskforce - but no guarantees

Rory Deighton responds to the DHSC announcement of the Elective Recovery Taskforce to help unlock capacity in the independent sector.

7 December 2022

Responding to the announcement from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) on an Elective Recovery Taskforce to help unlock capacity in the independent sector, Rory Deighton, director of the NHS Confederation’s acute network said:

“Health leaders welcome the government’s continued focus to tackle the elective care backlog with this new taskforce designed to unlock extra support from the independent sector.

“The NHS continues to work hard to slash the lists, having made sure that virtually everyone who had been waiting for over two years was seen by July. However the lists continue to grow despite their efforts and with the disruption expected over winter, the threat of industrial action for at least the next six months, and with increased referrals for treatment this shows no signs of abating any time soon.

“Leaders will be keen to support the taskforce and understand how independent sector capacity can be unlocked as soon as possible, learning from previous arrangements during the pandemic. But genuine recovery will require holistic and sustained attention. In some parts of the country the independent sector is staffed by those who also work in the NHS and so there is a danger that this extra capacity could be an illusion there. 

"As has been promised, the NHS needs a comprehensive workforce strategy in response to its 132,000 vacancies. The NHS needs further capital investment in response to its £10bn maintenance backlog, and around 13,000 patients are still in hospital beds who do not need to be there, largely due to a lack of capacity in social care.

“Despite these challenges and uncertainties, health leaders are hopeful they’ll be able to meet the government’s imminent elective recovery targets but right now, there can be no guarantees."