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IntroductionThe waiting list for elective surgery in England recently reached over 7.8 million people and waiting time targets have been missed since 2010. The high-volume low complexity (HVLC) surgical hubs programme aims to tackle the backlog of patients awaiting elective surgery treatment in England. This study will evaluate the impact of HVLC surgical hubs on productivity, patient care and the workforce.Methods and analysisThis 4-year project consists of six interlinked work packages (WPs) and is informed by the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research. WP1: Mapping current and future HVLC provision in England through document analysis, quantitative data sets (eg, Hospital Episodes Statistics) and interviews with national service leaders. WP2: Exploring the effects of HVLC hubs on key performance outcomes, primarily the volume of low-complexity patients treated, using quasi-experimental methods. WP3: Exploring the impact and implementation of HVLC hubs on patients, health professionals and the local NHS through approximately nine longitudinal, multimethod qualitative case studies. WP4: Assessing the productivity of HVLC surgical hubs using the Centre for Health Economics NHS productivity measure and Lord Carter's operational productivity measure. WP5: Conducting a mixed-methods appraisal will assess the influence of HVLC surgical hubs on the workforce using: qualitative data (WP3) and quantitative data (eg, National Health Service (NHS) England's workforce statistics and intelligence from WP2). WP6: Analysing the costs and consequences of HVLC surgical hubs will assess their achievements in relation to their resource use to establish value for money. A patient and public involvement group will contribute to the study design and materials.Ethics and disseminationThe study has been approved by the East Midlands-Nottingham Research Ethics Committee 23/EM/0231. Participants will provide informed consent for qualitative study components. Dissemination plans include multiple academic and non-academic outputs (eg, Peer-reviewed journals, conferences, social media) and a continuous, feedback-loop of findings to key stakeholders (eg, NHS England) to influence policy development.Trial registrationResearch registry: Researchregistry9364 (

Original publication




Journal article


Bmj open

Publication Date





York Trials Unit, Department of Health Sciences, University of York, York, UK


Humans, Qualitative Research, Research Design, Patients, State Medicine, England