National News: Patient initiated requests to move hospitals
From NHS England – 31st October, 2023
Hundreds of thousands of NHS patients who have been waiting the longest for treatment will be offered the opportunity to travel to a different hospital, if it means they could be seen sooner.
From today (31 October), any patient who has been waiting longer than 40 weeks and does not have an appointment within the next eight weeks will be contacted by their hospital via letter, text, or email, as announced by the NHS and government earlier this year.
As part of the ambitious NHS elective recovery plan, offers will be sent to up to 400,000 eligible patients who will then be able to submit their details including how far they are willing to travel – 50 miles, 100 miles or nationally. NHS teams can then identify whether any alternative hospitals have capacity to see them sooner.
In some instances, the patient’s request will be uploaded to the NHS’ innovative hospital matching platform – the Digital Mutual Aid System – to see if NHS or independent sector providers elsewhere in the country can take on their care.
Despite significant pressure and ongoing industrial action, the NHS has continued to recover elective services with over 87,000 more people treated in August than the same month before the pandemic.
The progress is thanks to the hard work of NHS staff and thanks to innovations including surgical hubs, community diagnostic centres, and the use of robots and AI to speed up surgery and other treatments.
Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive said: “Despite pressure and the huge disruption caused by strikes, NHS staff have made great progress in reducing the longest waits for patients – this new step to offer NHS patients who have been waiting the longest the opportunity to consider travelling for treatment is just another example of how we are introducing new approaches to reduce how long patients wait, while improving the choice and control they have over their own care.
“Giving this extra option to these patients also demonstrates the clear benefits of a single national health service, with staff able to share capacity right across the country.
“So, whether a patient’s care moves to the next town or somewhere further away, it is absolutely right that we make the most of available capacity across the country to continue to reduce the backlogs that have inevitably built up due to the pandemic and provide the best possible service for patients.”
It is estimated that approximately 400,000 patients (5% of the overall waiting list) meet the criteria and will be contacted by their hospital.
If no alternative hospital agreed with the patient is found within eight weeks of starting the process, the patient will remain with their current provider and keep their position on the waiting list. Some patients will not be eligible if their clinical condition is too complex, making it inappropriate to travel.
Eligible patients will be contacted directly by their NHS trust or independent sector provider and should not contact their GP practice or hospital.
Last Modified: 7:48am 01/11/2023
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