Patients to be offered choice to cut waiting times

The Department of Health and Social Care has announced that NHS patients will be given more choice and more control over their own care.

The NHS has issued a letter to local areas stating that patients should be offered choice when clinically appropriate.

After speaking to their GP, patients will be able to view information for up to five healthcare providers including distance, waiting times and quality of care and can then make a choice on where they would like to go for care.

Research has shown that giving patients choice can cut up to three months off their waiting time by selecting a different hospital in the same region.

Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive, said: “By giving patients greater choice and more information about their care through the convenience of the NHS app, we can change the way people access treatment options while also building on the fantastic work already being done by NHS staff across the country in bringing down the longest waits for care.

“Despite significant pressure, the NHS reduced 18 month waits for care by more than 90% by April and alongside existing tools like elective hubs, surgical robots and ‘prehab’ checks, this is another way that we are continuing to embrace the latest innovations and tech for the benefit of patients.”

Health and social care secretary Steve Barclay said: “Every patient should be able to easily choose where they go to receive treatment and today’s package will put that power in their hands.

“Millions of people downloaded the NHS App during the pandemic. Increasing use of this fantastic resource will enable them to exercise more choice and get access to essential information about the options for their care including journey time, length of wait and quality of service – all at the swipe of a smartphone screen.

“This will not only give patients more control over their own care but could also wipe months off their wait by finding a hospital or clinic with a shorter waiting list.

“Cutting waiting times is one of the government top five priorities and we are already making progress to tackle the backlog and are rolling out community diagnostic centres and surgical hubs to boost the numbers of tests, scans and operations.”