The NHS England elective chief, Sir Jim Mackey, has spoken with the Health Service Journal on subjects such as the NHS backlog, performance management and ICSs. This was a wide-ranging interview that took place in the wake of the publication of NHS England’s elective recovery plan. Sir Jim told the HSJ that leaders of trusts are now facing a far more ‘performance management-orientated world’ and that the service will be under increased scrutiny from the public and ministers following the substantial investments made.
The greater concentration on performance management does not mean “it needs to be shouty, or unprofessional, or disrespectful… But we have to get this delivered”, said Sir Jim.
Regarding elective demand, Sir Jim said that this was difficult to predict, and new targets are based on an assumption that “around half” the 10 million referrals which were expected by did not present during COVID do end up being referred. The present waiting list for procedures stands around the 6 million patient mark.
The health leader and former NHS Improvement boss stated that NHS managers will have a clearer picture of the true number of patients needing care “between the autumn and spring 2023” (assuming there is not another COVID wave).
He added: “If it becomes apparent that we have massively over-estimated the problem, I don’t think we’ll tear up the plan. I just think we’ll be under massive pressure to accelerate it, especially with the understandable political and public focus we can expect”.
Sir Jim has said that it was his decision to pay between £21m and £42m to management consultants for work “supporting”” ICSs with their elective recovery plan. The amounts being offered to the consultants provoked controversy and Sir Jim has now said that this was his “fault”. He did, however, defend their “pragmatic” appointment by saying: “It sounds like a load of money, but for half a million each, to get some people to work alongside the ICSs to develop the best plans we can, so we don’t have to wait another three or four months while the new teams do them.”