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UHL slashes waiting times


New figures show University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust is one of the leading Trusts in England in reducing the number of people waiting for treatment.

NHS England’s newly released data shows a 77% reduction in the number of people across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland system waiting more than a year for treatment, the biggest reduction of any system in England. The system also had the largest reduction in people waiting 65 weeks or more, and the second largest overall reduction in people waiting for treatment. 

UHL treated nearly 19,000 people in December 2023, the third highest by any Trust in England and the most by any Trust in the Midlands. 

UHL Chief Operating Officer Jon Melbourne said the data reflected the hard work of so many people to improve care for patients: “I want to thank our colleagues for their dedication and hard work to see and treat patients across the whole Trust. 

“During 2023 we are proud to have dramatically reduced the number of people waiting more than 52 weeks for their treatment. This is good news for those patients and for the whole health system. 

“While we are delighted with these results, I recognise that we still have work to do to ensure our patients are seen and treated quickly. We will continue our progress reducing the backlog of waiting lists, working towards the NHS England target of no-one waiting more than a year for treatment by March 2025.” 

Helen Hendley, Director of Planned Care for the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Integrated Care Board said: “We are really proud of how Leicester’s Hospitals have significantly reduced the time people need to wait for treatment locally. We would like to thank everyone for their hard work and dedication to achieving this, which has gone a long way to improving people’s experience. We know there is more to do and we look forward to supporting colleagues to continue this great progress over the coming year.”

Importance of managing waiting lists effectively 

The Covid-19 pandemic left Leicester’s Hospitals with a large elective recovery trajectory. In 2022, as part of work to address the backlog, the Trust formed a strategic partnership with digital communication platform Accurx.  

The technology was used to implement digital patient questionnaires, streamline the patient journey and enable effective triaging, often saving the need for an appointment. The expedited collection of patient information also saved approximately 2,550 hours of clinical time, or £256,318, in 2022. 

As part of the Accurx partnership, patients on waiting lists are contacted via SMS to confirm whether they still needed their scheduled appointment, reducing ‘no-shows’. Patients were also able to use digital patient-initiated follow-up, making it easier to access elective care. 

Developments at Leicester’s Hospitals over the last 12 months, including the East Midlands Planned Care Centre are also helping to reduce waiting lists. The new surgery unit, which opened at Leicester General Hospital in July 2023, is already seeing patients and is expected to treat 100,000 people a year when it opens fully at the end of 2024. This will help to bring forward hundreds of less complex procedures, such as keyhole surgery for gall bladders and hernia repairs. 

Jon said these innovations were crucial to reducing waiting lists: “We have seen huge developments in patient care, implementing streamlined services that allow us to treat more people. For instance, the Leicester Enhanced Arthroplasty Pathway has seen the average length of patient stay fall significantly, with 50 per cent now in hospital for only one night. The service has even been able to discharge a hip replacement patient on the same day as the operation. 

The monthly performance data and weekly winter data can be found on the NHS England website here.  

East Midlands Planned Care Centre 

A new surgery unit in Leicester is now seeing patients as it aims to tackle big waiting lists. The East Midlands Planned Care Centre will eventually see 100,000 patients a year from across the region when it fully opens.  

  • Based at Leicester General Hospital 
  • It will help to bring forward hundreds of less complex procedures, such as keyhole surgery for gall bladders and hernia repairs 
  •  The centre is due to expand into the disused Brandon mental health unit later this 2024. 
  •  The single-storey building contains an operating theatre, as well as pre-op and post-op beds for patients. 
  • It is anticipated that it will treat 100,000 people a year and will help reduce waits for scheduled surgeries. Ultimately, there will be 14 outpatient rooms, four ‘clean rooms’ and two theatres.

Work is also underway to open a new specialist endoscopy unit at the Leicester General. Endoscopy is a test to look inside a person’s body by inserting a tube with a small camera in it. The unit will see around 17,500 patients each year. It is being built next to the East Midlands Planned Care Centre. 

Patient case study   

A hip replacement patient has returned home on the day of his operation, thanks to a team effort from our elective orthopaedic surgery service. 

Tim Parker is the first Leicester’s Hospitals patient to be safely discharged on the date of his total hip replacement procedure. He said: “It’s really nice that it all came together for me to be able to go home so quickly. There was no pressure to do so, but it was explained to me pre-op that, as long as everything went to plan, they wouldn’t need to keep me in overnight.” 

The same-day discharge is the result of the team’s work to devise and implement a streamlined Leicester Enhanced Arthroplasty Pathway (LEAP) for hip and knee joint replacement surgery patients, which was rolled out this summer. 

Tim added: “It’s much more relaxed at home, with less disturbance, so I wanted to get home as soon as I could. However, the process was always led by me as we moved through the steps and I didn't feel rushed. It was slick and synchronised and I felt very well looked after and cared for.” 

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mr Andrew Brown, leads the multi-disciplinary team who spent months developing the new pathway.  

Mr Brown said: “As a result of improved coordination and more efficient ways of working together across disciplines, we're seeing our patients’ average length of stay fall significantly, with 50 per cent now in hospital for only one night. 

“The pathway is called ‘LEAP’ and it certainly represents the biggest leap forward in my 20 years here at Leicester’s Hospitals.  

"In previous decades, patients might have expected to stay in hospital for days, or even weeks after hip or knee replacement surgery. However, where it's possible and safe for them to do so, getting mobile and working back towards normal routines in a home environment, with pain control and support in place, is much more conducive to the patient’s recovery.” 


The COVID-19 pandemic left UHL with the largest elective recovery trajectory of any acute trust nationally. But since partnering with Accurx in 2022, we have: 

  • simplified patient pathways with digital questionnaires, saving ~2,550 hours of clinical time/£256,318 annually. 
  • moved more 7,500 patients to digital Patient Initiatied Follow-Up, freeing up appointments, 
  • removed more than 21,000 patients from waiting lists through text message validation 


This work, alongside other programmes, led to NHS England reducing its assessed risk of the Trust missing its recovery targets. 

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