The UK Government has unveiled new plans to allow patients to choose where they receive their healthcare, to reduce waiting lists and give them more control over their own care.
The National Health Service (NHS) has issued a letter to local areas mandating that patients be provided with choices when it is clinically suitable.
The move empowers patients to explore the NHS app or website to search for information related to different providers to decide where to go for treatment.
It is in line with a promise made by UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to reduce waiting lists.
Once patients consult their general practitioner (GP), they will be able to access details on at least five available providers, whenever feasible.
This information will include travel distance, waiting times, and quality, to make informed decisions about where to go.
In addition, the plans are expected to increase patients’ usage of the NHS app and website to improve how they choose their own care.
Based on research, this government action is estimated to reduce waiting times for patients by up to three months.
The IT systems have been updated to support GPs when referring patients for treatment.
Sunak said: “Empowering patients to choose where they receive treatment will help cut waiting lists, one of my five key priorities.
“Currently, just one in ten patients make a choice about where they receive care. We want to change that by helping the NHS to offer patients a real choice while also giving patients the information they need to decide.
“Our aim is to create an NHS built around patients, where everyone has more control over the care they receive, wherever they live or whatever their health needs are.”