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Reducing health inequalities and improving access

As we worked on reducing our waiting lists, we knew we needed to ensure none of our seldom heard communities were left behind and reach those who might be disproportionately affected by lengthy waits for care. Research shows that this group includes patients with a learning disability, along with some people from our Black and Minority Ethnic communities. 

Taking into account a range of different factors we have been able to move away from the traditional method of prioritising patients based solely on their referral priority and the duration that they have been on the waiting list, ensuring those patients most at risk from a long wait can be supported.

This work has been led by staff at South Warwickshire Foundation Trust where they have already used this information to combine audits of outpatient attendances with work on “predictive Did Not Attend” (those patients who we predict are likely to miss their appointment without letting us know) to offer additional support to those who might not access the healthcare they need. In addition, they have proactively managed patients with a learning disability to help them to attend appointments. 

Through this work the reduction in long waiters (~300 in 3 months) has coincided with a reduction in the patients living in the most deprived areas appearing on our inpatient waiting lists.