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Former cancer czar calls for doctors to work from home as part of campaign to end waiting lists

Former cancer czar calls for doctors to work from home as part of sweeping campaign to end waiting list scandal

  • Former government cancer czar says NHS consultants can work from home
  • 6.4 million patients awaiting treatment in March, an increase of 3 percent from last month
  • Mike Richards, former hospital inspector, says doctors can see patients virtually
  • 1.6 million people are on waiting lists, 400,000 have waited more than six weeks
  • Professor Richards insisted: “It can be done, but it’s going to be hard work.”

NHS consultants should be able to work from home, according to the government’s former cancer czar.

Calling for radical action to help tackle record waiting lists, Sir Mike Richards says some doctors could monitor patients virtually without going to work. He also proposes giving more responsibility to staff without medical qualifications.

Professor Richards, a former chief inspector of hospitals who remains influential in government, told The Times: “It’s about using all the levers rather than just saying it can’t be done.” It can be done, but it’s going to be hard work.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, Chief Inspector of Hospitals said: Is this about pulling all the levers rather than just saying it can't be done?  It can be done, but it's going to be hard work.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, chief inspector of hospitals, said: “It’s about using all the levers rather than just saying it can’t be done.” It can be done, but it’s going to be hard work.

He argued that hospitals had previously been too reluctant to hire administrative and clerical staff, but these workers could be trained for jobs such as operating scanning machines in cancer diagnostic centers, freeing up doctors’ time.

A record 6.4 million patients were awaiting treatment in March, a 3 percent increase from the previous month.

He argued that hospitals had previously been too reluctant to hire administrative staff and that these workers could be trained for jobs such as operating scanning machines in cancer diagnostic centers, freeing up doctors' time.

He argued that hospitals had previously been too reluctant to hire administrative staff and that these workers could be trained for jobs such as operating scanning machines in cancer diagnostic centers, freeing up doctors’ time.

But the true figure could be as high as 13 million, NHS sources told the Daily Telegraph. This is in part because patients are considered removed from the waiting list after they have received their first referral for treatment.

However, they will often have received no attention other than pain medication to help them recover before surgery.

Professor Richards added: “We could get people in at the starting rates – school leavers who would otherwise go and stack shelves or be at supermarket checkouts.” We need to make sure that people see that healthcare is a very rewarding field.

‘We are bringing trainees, this is a new career path. You can learn it on the job, get paid on the job, and then move up the ladder. “There’s a lot we can do by bringing in support workers so we can release radiographers, for example.”

A shortage of 110,000 staff, including 40,000 nurses and 8,000 doctors, will make it impossible to meet government targets to remove the Covid care backlog, NHS leaders said earlier.

NHS data shows that 1.6 million people remain on waiting lists for diagnostic tests, 400,000 of whom have been waiting longer than the six-week target.

NHS chiefs wrote to hospital trusts earlier this month indicating that waiting lists would not fall without measures to “extend the capacity of our workforce”.

The Department of Health and Social Care said: “There are a record number of doctors, nurses and health care staff…In addition, we recently commissioned NHS England to develop a long-term workforce strategy.”

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