How the NHS Workforce Alliance can help trusts reduce treatment backlogs

With more than six million people waiting for NHS treatment, trusts are under considerable pressure to reduce their waiting lists – a situation which has been made worse by the pandemic. 


The Government has pledged to tackle the backlog, but NHS England has acknowledged that overall waiting lists might not fall until early 2024, a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies has said.

The expert team at the NHS Workforce Alliance has been helping trusts across the UK to cut those backlogs through its Insourced Services to support the Provision of Healthcare Services framework.

Insourcing is a term used to describe a range of medical and clinical services which are deployed to use spare, out-of-hours capacity within a trust, alongside its existing provisions. The intention is to bolster service outputs and improve efficiency. Such services are typically provided by medical or clinical providers who can provide the specialist capabilities required to deliver an end-to-end service, including clinical governance and oversight.

Using such a service is one way trusts can cut the backlog while ensuring they retain capacity planning in-house.

Open to all types of clinical service

Suppliers have been shown to perform best when they have smooth handovers from the teams that are already in place – that way, staff provided by the suppliers feel like an extension of the existing team.

Trusts have spent more than £1.2 million through the framework in its first six months of operation, helping cut backlogs in areas such as endoscopy, dermatology, cardiology diagnostics, diagnostic imaging, and pain management.

The framework remains open to all types of clinical service.

Free to access

New suppliers are being added to the agreement every six months – maximising the choice available to customers. New suppliers that made successful bids during the first re-opening were due to join the agreement in May.

The framework is free to access and offers customers a short to medium-term solution to secure extra clinical capacity and ensure patients can be seen within the trust.

The NHS Workforce Alliance will soon be able to provide more information on supplier specialisms, meaning customers will be able to make an even more informed choice about who can provide their services. 

Joanne Barton, Senior Category Manager for HR & People at North of England Commercial Procurement Collaborative (NOE CPC), which is part of the NHS Workforce Alliance, said: “This framework provides an ideal solution for trusts, enabling them to make the most of their spare out-of-hours capacity, while keeping treatment in-house. 

“Suppliers on this free to access framework can provide all types of clinical service and are ready and waiting to help trusts cut their backlogs.”

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