New NHS App features to support patients and elective recovery

Date: 25/01/2024

As part of the ongoing development nationally to enable patients to be more involved in their healthcare management, the NHS App will shortly be launching a new feature to highlight approximate waiting times for treatment.

The NHS App, of which 33 million people are now signed-up to across the country, is the digital ‘front door’ to the NHS. The new feature will allow patients to view an estimated waiting time for their hospital treatment. You will know you are on waiting list and how long you may have to wait for treatment. As well as keeping patients better informed, it is anticipated that this will further help to free up NHS resources by alleviating queries usually directed to hospitals and GP practices.

Do more with the NHS App

The new features will be available from Tuesday 30 January to all patients signed up to the NHS App.

Through the NHS App and the integration with our MyCARE patient portal, patients at MKUH are able to:

  • View their hospital referrals and future appointments in one place;
  • View a single point of contact for their appointments;
  • Access supporting information to help prepare for their appointments;
  • Book, change and cancel their hospital referrals and appointments;
  • Receive notifications and messaging – notifying them of changes or actions they need to take about their appointments, questionnaires, or documents;
  • Where appropriate, complete questionnaires in advance of their appointment;
  • Access documents such as appointment letters, discharge summaries and clinic outcome letters;
  • Select paperless preferences
  • Review care received using the friends and family test.

Please note that all of these services, including viewing approximate waiting times for treatment, are only available for patients aged 18 or over who are under the care of the hospital.

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Frequently asked questions:

What is the new waiting times feature and what does it show?

Patients can already see information regarding their estimated waiting time on the NHS App: within the NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS) Manage Your Referral. When a patient selects their clinic, they are shown information regarding their first appointment and the mean (average) waiting time to start treatment.

However, after this screen, a patient is no longer able to view this information as they continue their care journey.

The new waiting times feature will continue to present the patient information stating they are on a waiting list and the estimated waiting time for treatment to ensure that patients are provided with a continued and consistent experience on the NHS App.

How often are waiting times updated?

Data is updated weekly based on NHS trust updates to Waiting List Minimum Data Set (WLMDS) and My Planned Care (MPC) data, meaning the patient’s expected treatment date, based on average waiting time, may move based on updates to individual Trust data.

When does a waiting time start?

Your waiting time starts from when the hospital or service receives a patient’s referral; this could be when they book their first appointment through the NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS). During this period, they may:

  • have tests, scans, or other procedures to help ensure that their treatment is appropriate for their condition
  • have medicine or therapy to manage their symptoms until they start treatment
  • be referred to another consultant or department.

When does a waiting time end?

A patient’s waiting time ends on commencement of treatment but will also end if a clinician decides no treatment is necessary, the patient decide they do not want to be treated. Treatment could include:

  • being admitted to hospital for an operation or treatment
  • starting treatment that does not require them to stay in hospital, such as taking medicine
  • beginning fitting for a medical device, such as leg braces
  • agreeing to have their condition monitored for a time to see whether they need further treatment
  • receiving advice from hospital staff about how to manage their condition.

If a patient reaches any of the conditions listed above that qualify as treatment, they will no longer see waiting times data. Instead, they will be presented with a message informing them they are no longer on a waiting list.