Reducing the 52-week burden in E.N.T

Published: 13th March 2024
GIRFT’s handbook ‘Further Faster Ear, Nose and Throat’ provides best practice guidance to accelerate the reductions of E.N.T waiting lists. Here’s where a remote service that works on local systems and utilises NHS consultants from out of area can support with some of the tasks.

Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) recently announced the rollout of its 19 Further Faster programmes to all NHS trusts in England, supporting them in reducing the number of patients waiting over a year for their appointment.

The key challenge to deliver the various best practice tasks set out remains local clinical capacity.

Further Faster: Ear Nose and Throat

Some of the clinical tasks highlighted in the E.N.T handbook, particularly in the Pre-Appointment good practice checklist, lend themselves to being done remotely- in the short- or long-term:

Our service brings in E.N.T NHS consultants from our National Consultant Network (NCN). They clinically triage referrals which means they identify correct pathways, reduce clinical risk by prioritising urgencies and write up management plans when returning referrals to primary care where appropriate. The NCN consultants follow local pathway guidance and work under the leadership of the local clinical lead. The entire administration is handled by us, with no disruption to local flows.

Consultants triage long waiter lists as well as new referrals as they come in on an ongoing basis, without any long-term commitments needed. When the local staffing situation changes, the service can be switched off with 72 hours notice. Mobilisation is fast, meaning most projects launch in under one month.

Dr Sonna Ifeacho, E.N.T NHS consultant triaging referrals through the service comments:


‘This is healthcare for modern times. Marrying one’s clinical skills with digital platforms to help patients receive care faster and from the right place. It is immensely gratifying to be a part of this.’


Over 6,000 E.N.T referrals have been reviewed through the service to date:

  • 30% of referrals were safely removed from the waiting list, of which 29% were returned primary care with a management plan and 1% booked into diagnostics.
  • The remaining 70% of referrals were directed to the right place first time, with 63% booked into a routine outpatient appointment (43% without additional diagnostics needed, 20% with diagnostics needed), 5% accepted for an urgent appointment and the remaining 1% upgraded to urgent or downgraded to routine.

For more information:

If you have any questions or would like to discuss how our Referral Triage and Validation service or the National Consultant Network can support your area, email: or call us: 01865 261 467.

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