We’ve all seen the worrying headlines about the growth in NHS waiting lists following the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Just this week it has been reported in the national news that the number of people on NHS waiting lists hit a 12-year high. At least 162,000 patients are waiting more than a year for routine operations and the total NHS waiting list for routine treatments reached 4.4 million at the end of October. More than a third of those patients had been waiting more than 18 weeks – the NHS target for waiting times, from referral to treatment.
As the NHS continues to suspend operations as it tackles the Coronavirus epidemic, experts are expecting to see these waiting list figures rise even further in 2021.
To tackle this growing problem, NHS bosses need to introduce additional capacity into the system and one of the ways they are looking to do this is through a concept called insourcing.
What is insourcing?
Similar to outsourcing, insourcing would see the hospital ask an external provider to get an activity, contract or job completed on their behalf using their own people and equipment. The difference with insourcing is that the external company would bring their own people and equipment to the hospital and manage everything on the hospital’s own site.
This is a growing concept and one which we can reasonably expect to see taking a strong foothold in the NHS in 2021 as it struggles to bring down the growing waiting lists.
What does the growth of NHS insourcing mean for businesses?
The growth of insourcing by the NHS is likely to present some tender opportunities for private companies or medical professionals in the healthcare industry.
The types of services that hospitals are looking to secure support with could include:
- NHS inpatient and outpatient (including full supporting pathology and imaging) services and urgent elective care and cancer treatment to service users in line with nationally set criteria; and
- NHS inpatient non-elective care (either direct admission or transfer from an NHS organisation).
Forward-thinking businesses in the health sector have already identified insourcing as a growing area. For example, UK and Ireland healthcare service provider, Totally, launched its new insourcing venture, Totally Healthcare, in October. It said it was starting the venture primarily to reduce NHS waiting times by providing a range of procedures and services within NHS hospitals, taking advantage of spare capacity typically during weekends and bank holidays. A few weeks ago, it revealed its insourcing services have secured significant contracts across its target markets and it now classes itself as ‘key partners’ to the NHS.
Who does the NHS want to work with?
NHS Commissioners are open to working with private providers of all sizes, for a wide range of clinical activities across the country. There are national frameworks like NHS SBS aimed at all size organisations and locations, alternatively we have seen individual NHS Trusts selecting exclusive providers to meet their local requirements.
All indications are that we will see insourcing playing a greater role in the immediate future of the NHS as part of its efforts to bring waiting lists down.
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