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ICBs to pilot giving patients a choice on where they receive care

ICBs to pilot giving patients a choice on where they receive care
By Beth Gault
15 May 2024

Patients will have a choice of where they receive routine out of hospital care under a new ICB pilot launching in the autumn which hopes to give them ‘faster, more convenient treatment’.

ICBs ‘in areas across the country’ will be ‘expected to participate in some form’, according to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

NHS England will begin ‘detailed engagement with a sub-set of ICBs’ to discuss introducing choice for certain pathways of care ‘over the coming months’, it said.

This will include working through the ‘practical actions’ of establishing choice, identifying the barriers and the impact on finances and capacity.

The pathways included could feature services such as hearing aid care, diagnostic tests like endoscopy, diabetics and nutrition, ambulatory ECG and podiatry.

ICBs will be expected to include a range of providers across the NHS, charity and independent sectors, all of which will be free at the point of use. They will also be encouraged to consider expanding the range of providers of services already covered by choice regulations, including mental health.

Following the results of the pilot, the government hopes to expand this choice to more services and areas of the country.

Health secretary, Victoria Atkins, said: ‘Empowering patients to take control of their own healthcare decisions is a key part of my missions to make the NHS faster, simpler and fairer for everyone that uses it.

‘Expanding patient choice will enable people to choose when, where and how they are treated – putting power in the hands of the patients.’

NHS national elective recovery director, Sir James Mackey, said: ‘Giving patients greater choice over where and how they receive their care is a vital part of NHS plans to recover and reform after the pandemic, with patients across the country already able to choose where they receive planned care including surgery, with information including waiting times at all providers to help patients make the best possible choice for them.

‘Today’s announcement of a pilot to expand this type of model to some out of hospital services will give patients more control over the different types of care they need, with the aim of helping to improve waiting times and quality of care.’

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