Spend less time waiting for treatment by shopping with the NHS app

  • By Nick Triggle
  • health correspondent

image source, Getty Images

Patients are encouraged to shop on NHS apps and websites to reduce wait times for treatment in the UK.

Updated IT systems to make it easier for patients to exercise their right to choose where to receive planned treatments such as knee surgery.

You will be able to view up to 5 providers filtered by distance, wait time and quality of care.

But hospitals warned that staffing shortages still need to be addressed to have the greatest impact on wait times.

The idea of ​​choosing where to get treatment has been around since the early 2000s, but few people are taking advantage of it.

Currently, only 1 in 10 people exercise their right to choose, and patients report that they are not always offered a choice of destination or find it difficult to choose another venue.

The ministers believe that searching the list of different hospitals will reduce waiting times for patients. Studies show it can save you up to 3 months.

A letter was also sent to local NHS administrators reminding them of the need to offer patients options.

More than 7.3 million people are currently on the waiting list, nearly 3 million more than before the pandemic.

One in 20 people are waiting for more than a year, but the NHS has almost eliminated waiting times of 18 months or more.

Struggling NHS

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Enabling patients to choose where they receive treatment will reduce waiting lists. This is one of my five key priorities.”

Rachel Power of the Patients Association said the move would “make it easier for patients to access” long-established rights of choice.

But progress will also depend on whether the NHS can see more patients.

Although there have been improvements in terms of very long wait times, the number of surgeries being performed is still below pre-pandemic levels. This is mainly because hospitals are struggling to get back to full capacity due to staffing shortages, an increase in emergency patients and issues with patient discharge due to lack of care in the community.

Labor also criticizes the government for not making more use of the private sector, saying it has the capacity to see 300,000 more patients in the private sector in the past 15 months than ever before.

Private hospitals are paid NHS prices for patient consultations under their agreements with the health service.

The hospital’s representative, NHS Providers’ Miriam Deakin, said the initiative was welcomed but that improving patient access to choice was “not a panacea”.

He said progress will be more difficult until the talent shortage is resolved.

Currently, 1 in 10 posts are vacant in the NHS.

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