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

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

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

The funding for this activity 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 delivered in NHS Trusts across the UK as well as here on the Isle of Man, 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.

Prior to the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, healthcare waiting lists on the Isle of Man were lengthy with no clear plan in place to focus on reducing these. However, this was only exacerbated further 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 activity began in October 2021, and has achieved the delivery of:

  • 115 orthopaedic hip and knee surgeries
  • 458 endoscopic procedures (resulting in an average waiting list time of less than six weeks)
  • Over 350 ophthalmic cataract operations (patients returned home on the same day)

In addition, average length of stay following orthopaedic surgery was reduced from four days to around 1.5 days. With the exception of the endoscopy activity which was delivered by Manx Care’s own in-house teams utilising surplus theatre capacity across weekend periods, the ophthalmology and orthopaedic activity was delivered from the Private Patient’s Unit at Noble’s Hospital led by Manx Care’s in-house teams, in partnership with clinicians from Synaptik.

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.

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

Teresa Cope, chief executive of Manx Care, said: ‘Reducing waiting lists continues to be a key focus for Manx Care, and so the overall funding envelope of £18.3 million that has been awarded in the October sitting of Tynwald 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.

‘It will also bring the inpatient and day case waiting lists down to acceptable levels for Manx Care to manage sustainably moving forward. 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, and I am confident we will continue to see this during this next phase of work.’