A TOTAL of £10m worth of funding has been announced to help cut NHS waiting lists in Hampshire.

NHS England has announced that funding of £10m is being put towards helping the county recover from the pandemic as it looks to cut waiting lists, The funding is part of an £160m investment to care systems across the country and comes after figures revealed last month that the number of people in England waiting to begin hospital treatment had risen to a new record high.

A total of 4.7 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of February – the highest figure since records began in August 2007.

But now the funding is set to be used to trial virtual wards, 3D eye scanners and at-home antibiotic kits as part of the effort to tackle the lengthy waiting lists.

Derek Sandeman, Chief Medical Officer for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care System, said: “We are delighted that Hampshire and the Isle of Wight has been selected to receive £10m of additional funding to tackle waiting lists and further reduce waiting times for planned care for patients.

“Dedicated teams have maintained high levels of planned care in the past months, despite a significant increase in patients with COVID-19 being cared for in hospital during the second peak of the pandemic which inevitably had a knock-on effect on non-urgent care.

“This additional funding allows us to test new, innovative ways of creating additional capacity for planned care and will help ensure no patient waits any longer than they have to.”

Tens of thousands of patients in the trial areas will be part of initiatives including a high-volume cataract service, one-stop testing facilities and pop-up clinics to allow patients to be seen and discharged closer to home.

It has not yet been announced if these types of trials will take place in Hampshire.

Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief operating officer, said: “The additional support announced today will help us create a blueprint for continuing that progress over summer and beyond, in a way that doesn’t heap extra pressure on staff, so that as many people as possible benefit from the world-class care the NHS provides.”

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, added that lengthy waiting times have been a “worry” for patients and welcomed the initiative.

She said: “The importance of treatment being timely, to ensure the best possible outcomes, is well recognised.”