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Planned Hospital Services

Hospitals provide many services for people from non-urgent care, planned hospital care (referred to as elective care services) through to life-threatening conditions.

A typical planned hospital care pathway may include:

  • Being referred to a specialist by a primary care clinician (a GP, Optician or Dentist)
  • Attending an outpatient appointment to see the specialist
  • Attending for diagnostic tests to investigate your condition if needed
  • Attending hospital for treatment if needed
  • Attending any follow up appointments after treatment

In Greater Manchester

Greater Manchester was one of the areas hardest hit by COVID-19 and this has impacted on our hospital waiting lists. There are currently 535,000 people waiting for planned hospital care.

Hospitals across Greater Manchester, including services provided by the independent sector, are working together to treat people as quickly as possible. Realistically, long waits will be with us for some time as the NHS works through the people on waiting lists.

The main questions people have is how long they will wait and how people are prioritised on the waiting list.

It’s difficult to be able to give people an exact waiting time as this will depend on their specific treatment needs and clinical needs. Hospital consultants are looking at who has the greatest clinical need and who has waited the longest, and prioritising people against these two key criteria.

Managing waiting list backlogs

To address the backlogs, the NHS needs to do two things:

  1. Reduce the number of new referrals being made into hospitals.
  2. Increase services to be able to offer more appointments and undertake more procedures.

To achieve this, services will need to work differently, and people may be asked to access their care in a different way or different place. There are six parts to our Elective Care Recovery and Reform Strategy.

Integrated Elective Care

We are looking at how services across health and care work together to support people without having to be referred to hospital. We are looking at how follow up appointments work and if we can support people to come forward when they feel they need an appointment.

Productivity and efficiency

We need to ensure that our hospitals are working as efficiently as possible so that the greatest number of appointments and procedures are being done every day.

Utilising the independent sector

We will work with independent sector providers to find ways they can support the NHS by treating people on the waiting list.

Waiting list management

We want all hospitals to manage their waiting lists in the same way and we are looking at how we can support people whilst they wait for their appointment or procedure.

Surgical hubs

We are looking at how we can treat more people. Located in existing hospitals, surgical hubs will focus on reducing the waiting times for some of the most common procedures.

Children’s elective recovery

Children and young people are a priority in Greater Manchester. We are looking at how we can manage people waiting for children’s services by creating additional capacity. We are also looking at how we can best support children and young people.




Recent engagement work

We recently ran a survey to get feedback from people about their experiences of waiting for planned hospital services and our plans to address waiting list backlogs.

The engagement outcome report has now been published and you can read this here.

We are grateful to everyone who took part in the engagement work by completing the survey or speaking to colleagues in community venues across Greater Manchester. It is clear from the feedback that we must focus on improving communication so people don’t feel ‘forgotten’ whilst they are on the waiting list and to look at how we can support people to access care in a different place.


There are seven recommendations within the engagement report and we will feedback on our progress to action this via a “you said,  we listened” document.

The survey gives us key lines of enquiry which can form the basis of further ‘deep dive’ conversations on different topics. We will make the most of the information we have gathered from patients by sharing with local hospitals and clinical groups.

We will continue to promote While You Wait as a resource for people who can access the internet. Trusts should actively promote support to their patients, and we will develop resources that will help.

We will work with primary care clinicians to understand what information and resources would be helpful to support them in conversations when referring a patient. We will better promote patient choice and options available to patients.

We will actively promote our new transport web page that lists all the transport support and schemes available to patients. We will standardise procedures for offering support to patients across Greater Manchester.

We will work with patients to improve information about local surgical hubs and look to develop a standard procedure for offering patients the opportunity to be treated elsewhere.

We will work with hospitals across Greater Manchester to improve communication at all stages, exploring the use of technology to support communication updates and ensure that accessible information standards are met.

We will work with people and communities on an ongoing basis to shape the recovery and improvement of planned hospital care services.

While You Wait

If you or someone you care for is waiting for planned hospital care, you are more likely to have concerns and questions. Visit for more information and advice.

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