If you’re on the waiting list for a planned care procedure, or if you have a close connection with an adult or child who is waiting, the West Yorkshire & Harrogate Health Care Partnership would like to hear from you.

They want to know how people have been affected by delays to planned care as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and are keen to hear examples of how people are managing their symptoms and what, if any, activities or support services they are finding helpful.

People’s personal experiences of what it’s like to wait a long time for treatment will be invaluable as they work to restore planned care services and address the backlog.

If you would be interested in sharing your experience by joining their new Planned Care Citizens’ Panel then please read on. 

What is planned care?

Planned care is also known as ‘routine’ or ‘elective’ care. It is treatment that people decide to have to help manage a health problem, rather than emergency treatment for an urgent (life-threatening) medical condition, or following a serious accident. People are usually referred to hospital for planned care by their GP or other healthcare professional. 

Planned care covers many different medical procedures including joint replacements and cataract surgery for example. It also includes tests to diagnose and detect diseases such as cancer and other serious medical conditions. 

Improving planned care services is one of the Partnership’s main priorities. This is why they have an Improving Planned Care Programme that focusses just on this work. The Improving Planned Care Programme works with local hospitals through the West Yorkshire Association of Acute Trusts’ Elective Surgery Programme. This collaboration is called the Planned Care Alliance.

How has Covid-19 affected planned care services?

The pandemic has had a stark impact on planned care services across the country. The initial outbreak of the virus forced the NHS to postpone a huge amount of planned care activity to free up staff and beds for people seriously ill with Covid-19. This difficult decision to temporarily stop services has affected millions of people waiting for planned care.

Throughout the pandemic, hospitals have continued to carry out urgent surgery and diagnostic tests for cancer and other potentially life-threatening conditions. However the necessity to treat patients with Covid-19, staffing and capacity issues, and the essential safety restrictions in place since March 2020, have created a growing backlog of people needing their planned care procedures.

Estimates suggest there are around 150,000 people in West Yorkshire and Harrogate currently on the waiting list for planned care. Around 10,000 have been waiting more than one year for their procedure.

How can I support this work?

The new virtual citizens’ panel of adult volunteers will support the Planned Care Alliance with communications around its strategy for restoring planned care services. Having clear information around the detail in the strategy, such as how patients will be prioritised for treatment and what support is available for those waiting for a procedure, will be essential. 

The panel’s input and expertise will help ensure that public information is relevant, clear and that it gets to the people who need it – patients and their families, carers and service users across West Yorkshire and Harrogate.

This new Planned Care Citizens’ Panel will be in place for 12 weeks from June 21 to September 10 2021. They are looking for panel members who are currently waiting for a planned care procedure, or who have a close connection with an adult or child affected by the delays to planned care services as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

They are wanting the panel to represent people from across West Yorkshire and Harrogate, of all age groups, ethnicities, genders and with experience of different health conditions.

What does being a panel member involve?

Due to ongoing safety issues around Covid-19, panel meetings will be held once every two weeks online. These scheduled meetings will last for about two hours but days and times of meetings will vary to make sure that we can accommodate the different commitments panel members may have around work or caring responsibilities for example. They are not expecting panel members to attend every meeting, just as many as you can.

Other meetings may also be arranged when necessary, if a particular topic arises that the panel could contribute to between the scheduled panel meetings. It’s also important that panel members are willing to be contacted by the Planned Care Alliance, as and when required, by email. Panel members may be asked for their views on a particular topic, or be sent meeting notes or updates via email for example.

I’d like to help, how can I apply?

If you are interested in becoming a member of the Planned Care Citizens’ Panel, please complete and return the Expression of interest and equality monitoring form by May 23.

If you have any questions, please email: wyhhcp.plannedcare@nhs.net or if you’d like to talk to someone about the citizens’ panel, you can call 01924 317659 during office hours (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).