NHS app: Local bodies required to offer patients choice of treatment providers

Written by Sam Trendall on 31 May 2023 in News

Citizens will be presented with details of five or more hospitals or other options

Credit: Crown Copyright/Open Government Licence v3.0

Local health-service bodies will now be required to use the NHS app and website to offer patients a choice of treatment providers.

Government contacted NHS organisations last week to inform them that – where possible and if deemed clinically appropriate – GPs referring patients for secondary care will be asked to offer patients a choice of at least five different providers.

Surgeries will be expected to provide citizens with “information about waiting times, distance to travel and quality to help them make their choice… about where they go for treatment using the NHS App or website, based on their own circumstances”.

Additionally, patients that have been on a waiting list for more than 40 weeks but are yet to be given a date for treatment will – again, where possible and clinically appropriate – be given the option of switching to a hospital with a shorter waiting time.

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The government claimed that currently only about 10% of patients “exercise their right to choose but research shows that giving patients choice can cut up to three months off their waiting time”. The new requirements for referrals to offer a range of providers will be backed with a campaign designed to raise citizens’ awareness of the ability to choose.

GP practices have been provided with new guidance and can also take advantage of training on how to use IT systems to make secondary-care referrals.

Health and social care secretary Steve Barclay said: “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.”

NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard added: “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.”


About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology. He can be reached on sam.trendall@publictechnology.net.


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