Seeking patients’ views on delays to planned care caused by the pandemic

Woman reading a letter and looking concernedA report into the findings of the West Yorkshire Health and
Care Partnership’s Planned Care Citizens’ Panel has been published today (24 June 2022), exactly one year after the
panel met for the first time.

Back in June 2021, the impact of the initial outbreak of Covid-19
in the UK had forced the NHS to postpone a huge amount of planned care activity to free up staff and beds for patients seriously ill with the virus. Like millions of people across the country, our Planned Care Citizens’ Panel members, all patients on the waiting list, were told their planned care procedure would be delayed.

The aim of running this panel was to support communications around these delays to planned care services, and to give us a patient’s perspective as services were being brought back across West Yorkshire. Catherine Thompson, Associate Director for the Partnership’s Planned Care Alliance who chaired all the panel meetings said:
“Panel members knew from first-hand experience the impact that waiting was having on their health, lifestyle, personal circumstances, and on their friends and families. That’s why they were determined to work with us to help others in the same position. At that time, we knew we had a long way to go, and we were very privileged to be able to work with patient representatives who were so willing to support us along the way.”

The panel, made up of adult volunteers from across West Yorkshire, was in place from June to September 2021. Panel members met online for two hours every fortnight for 12 weeks. At these meetings, hospital managers, clinicians and other colleagues from across the Partnership shared details with them about the work taking place to reduce the backlog of planned care cases caused by the pandemic. Panel members shared their own experiences of waiting for treatment, asked relevant and important questions, and provided a great deal of valuable feedback.

Having a citizens’ panel purely to focus on the disruption to planned care services has been incredibly helpful for colleagues across the healthcare system who have been working so hard throughout the pandemic to bring down long waits for elective care. The panel’s experiences, concerns and views have helped to focus services on what matters most to those affected by the delays to planned care - the patients and those people close to them.

Involvement in the panel has also been beneficial for panel members, including Sara who said:
“Being members of the Planned Care Citizens’ Panel gave us all the opportunity to share our experiences and raise concerns, to help things progress and improve for everyone on the waiting list. From a personal point of view, this involvement gave me more confidence to ask questions, and to look at ways to improve my health and wellbeing whilst waiting.”

The feedback from all the panel meetings has been summarised in the report 'Seeking patients’ views on delays to planned care caused by the pandemic'. The report covers the main themes discussed at the panel meetings and includes the panel’s key recommendations. It is a candid look at some of the discussions, often very upsetting, with the panel over the 12-week period and is a stark reminder of how extremely difficult things were one year ago. Because the picture is very different today, the report also highlights the significant progress being made in tackling the backlog as capacity for planned care services in West Yorkshire is increased week after week.

The report is available in PDF and Word versions below.

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