Manx Care is to receive £18.3 million of government funding to continue its work in reducing the island’s orthopaedic, ophthalmology and general surgery waiting lists.

It follows a supplementary vote tabled by the Department of Health and Social Care during the October Tynwald sitting.

The funding will support phase two of Manx Care’s ‘Restoration and Recovery of Elective Activity’ programme which is already underway with clinicians from Synaptik, Manx Care’s strategic partner.

The funding for this will be ring-fenced by the DHSC and will sit separately from Manx Care’s annual budget.

Restoration and Recovery of Elective Activity programmes are being done in NHS trusts across the UK as well as in the island, and ‘aim to reduce healthcare waiting lists by utilising private healthcare providers to work alongside in-house teams and supplement the capacity they have to offer appointments and operations’, says Manx Care.

Prior to the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, healthcare waiting lists in the Isle of Man were lengthy with no clear plan in place to focus on reducing these, which was only exacerbated by the pandemic.

When Manx Care came into existence in April 2021, it made a commitment to reduce waiting lists across a number of clinical specialities. Orthopaedic, general surgery and ophthalmology have the largest numbers of patients waiting for surgery, with each specialty reporting more than a 52-week average wait time.

In August 2021, £1.86 million was awarded to Manx Care to fund phase one of the programme. This began in October 2021, and has achieved 115 orthopaedic hip and knee surgeries, 458 endoscopic procedures (resulting in an average waiting list time of less than six weeks), and over 350 ophthalmic cataract operations (patients returned home on the same day).

Average length of stay following orthopaedic surgery was reduced from four days to around 1.5 days.

The full £18.3 million of funding covering the phase two activity will see around 3,800 surgical procedures (approximately 760 orthopaedic, 940 general surgery and 2,090 ophthalmology) delivered between now and the end of Q1 in the 2023/24 financial year subject to winter pressures, staff capacity and supply of consumables.

This will reduce the total waiting time for these three specialties to an average of 52 weeks or less.

Teresa Cope, Manx Care chief executive, said: ‘Reducing waiting lists continues to be a key focus for Manx Care, and so the overall funding envelope of £18.3 million will allow us to continue addressing the backlog of elective surgery that we have at pace, and prevent patients from having to wait any longer than they have already for surgeries that are needed to improve their quality of life.

‘We have already seen a significant reduction in our waiting lists during the first phase of this programme of work, which in turn has had a significant impact on the quality of life of our patients.’

Minister for Health and Social Care, Rob Callister added: ‘We recognise that the longer someone is on a waiting list, the higher the risk their condition could worsen, and therefore I very much welcome this.

‘Long waiting lists have a negative impact on patients’ overall wellbeing, so if we can address these issues quicker we are supporting a vision where residents are able to live long and healthy lives.’