Same-day hip replacements and mobile cataract units are some of the steps the NHS is taking to reduce the backlog of care.
It is also offering patients “one-stop shops” for patients to access diagnostic services close to home.
The NHS in England said 230,000 patients have benefited from these community diagnostic hubs – such as mobile scanners in supermarket car parks – since February.
The health service said staff are working “flat out” to deliver as much pre-planned care as possible.
– In Merseyside, a grandmother has become the first person in the region to receive life-changing hip replacement surgery and go home safely on the same day.
– In Buckinghamshire, a new mobile cataract suite on the grounds of Stoke Mandeville Hospital enables the trust to perform 100 additional cataract surgeries each week.
– In Devon, the Nightingale hospital set up during the early part of the Covid-19 pandemic is now offering a range of orthopaedic, ophthalmology, diagnostic and rheumatology services to local people.
– A new cataract center in Newcastle is performing 1,000 procedures a month – almost double the number before the coronavirus pandemic.
Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for NHS England, said: “Hardworking NHS staff continue to pull out all the stops, applying the same determination seen throughout the pandemic to address Covid backlogs that have inevitably built up, and reduce long waits for patients.
“Despite busy emergency services and increasing numbers of people in hospital with Covid, local NHS areas are adopting creative innovations to ensure patients are getting the care they need – from mobile units doing cataract operations to patients in the North West getting a hip replacement in hospital and returning home again on the same day.
“Ahead of what is a busy weekend for NHS staff, I would encourage people to come forward for the care they need – NHS 111 online can help point you towards the help you need.”
In February the health service published its “elective recovery plan” which set out how it intends to tackle the backlog.
Those waiting longest will be offered more choice about their care.
This means patients will have the option of being treated at a hospital further away if it means they can be treated sooner.
The plan also set out ambitions to ramp up the speed at which patients can get diagnostic tests, with a target of six weeks.
In the plan, the NHS pledged to ensure any patient waiting more than two years is treated by July.
A record 6.1 million people are waiting for pre-planned NHS care in England.
More than 23,000 have been waiting for over two years.
One trust, Barts Health in London, has described how it has cut the number of patients waiting for more than two years by 75% since January.
NHS England figures show that in January 662 patients had been waiting at the trust for more than two years.
And data obtained by the PA news agency shows that two patients had been waiting for more than three years at the trust in January, including one who was waiting for 200 weeks for general surgery.
A spokesperson for Barts Health said: “We are targeting patients who have waited too long for planned treatment through our elective recovery programme.
“Since January the backlog of patients waiting two years or more has failed by 75% and no-one will wait that long by June.”
In 2017, then head of the NHS Lord Stevens warned that NHS waiting lists would hit five million people without an urgent injection of cash from the Government.
Even before coronavirus hit, the waiting list was 4.2 million.
Disruption caused by the pandemic made the list soar to the current record numbers.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.