NHS England is set to roll-out a new pilot system across the country making it easier for GPs to understand the waiting times at hospitals for their patients.
Prior to this, NHS carried out a trial of the Capacity Alert system, results of which showed improved service access.
The system was developed after NHS England commissioned the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) to introduce new ways of helping hospital trusts ease pressure on services.
NHS England Operations and Information director Matthew Swindells said: “This system makes it even easier for GPs and patients to understand hospital waiting times which will in turn see benefits for patients and hospitals.
“The Capacity Alert system is a good example of how smarter working and relatively simple innovations can lead to another big improvement in NHS services.”
The new e-traffic light system will offer patients a clearer choice of treatment.
Appearance of a red light denotes hospitals with longer waiting times on the GP referral system, while a green light shows GPs that a hospital has available capacity.
This helps doctors make sure that patients have quicker access to treatment.
During the trials, red lights reduced referrals to overbooked hospitals by nearly 40%, while green lights increased referrals to hospitals with available capacity by 14%.
The trials of the Capacity Alert system were successful in North East and South West London and BIT is now supporting its roll-out across the NHS in England.