From Tuesday 31 October 2023, patients in England will have a greater choice over their care.
Every trust in the country will then offer the opportunity to patients who have been waiting for 32 weeks, 26 weeks and so on, with the aim of eventually offering the option to anyone who has waited 18 weeks for an appointment.
The new patient choice system cannot guarantee a trust will have a shorter waiting list and all patients will have to be declared medically and socially fit.
How will I be contacted?
You will receive a letter or a text explaining you are now eligible and how to access the patient choice online portal.
Can I contact my consultant or GP to ask to be allowed access to the portal?
No. Each trust is following government guidance to methodically offer the service to patients based on how long they have been waiting, starting with those who have been waiting the longest.
What happens once I register on the online portal?
You can set the parameters of how far you are willing to travel (within 50 miles, within 100 miles or nationwide) and the portal will alert you to any trust with a shorter waiting time.
Can I choose the hospital or trust?
No. Any offer is based on waiting list times.
Then what happens?
Behind the scenes, the patient’s clinical team at our trust and the relevant clinical teams at a trust with a shorter waiting time will liaise to assess the patient’s suitability to be transferred.
What if I am not deemed suitable for travel or there is no trust with a shorter waiting list?
We will continue to provide your care and will seek to arrange your appointment as quickly as possible. You can expect to be told of the decision within two to three weeks.
What happens if I am accepted?
In this case, you would be transferred to the care of a new trust. This would involve any pre-assessment appointments, your treatment or surgery and any follow up appointments all taking place at the hospital you have been transferred to.
You can expect to be told of the decision within five to six weeks.
How do I travel to the new hospital?
That is up to each patient. There is an NHS travel reimbursement scheme which you may be eligible for but if not, any and all travel and accommodation costs must be covered by the patient.
What about my family – can they visit me if I have an overnight stay?
Yes, but they would be responsible for their own travel costs.
Why can’t I have my follow up appointments with you?
The system does not allow for this. All follow up appointments (such as to remove surgical stitches or assess the effectiveness of the treatment) must take place with the trust that delivered the care. Patients should take this potential disruption and cost into account.
How long will the process take?
The patient will be told if a new provider has been found or not within five to six weeks of starting the process.
When will those under 18 be able to change provider?
We will be including patients under 18 in the future.
How can I find out more about my choices as a patient?
The NHS patient choice webpage has further details.