Patients who need treatment will be quickly allocated to a hospital with sufficient capacity via a newly launched ‘matching’ platform, NHS England has said.
Launched today (10 August), the tool will allow NHS staff to view and add available surgery slots in hospitals across the country, including in the independent sector.
According to NHS England, clinical teams will be required to upload details of patients willing to travel who are on their waiting list, with other NHS providers able to match people up to treatment. Options are then passed to the patient to choose from.
The tool was originally introduced for patients needing a hospital admission but has now been expanded to include cancer, diagnostic checks, and outpatient appointments.
NHS England said the system is mainly to be used for patients who have been waiting the longest, and views it as a key tool in eliminating all 65 week waits by April 2024.
Gynaecology, colorectal and trauma and orthopaedics have benefited most from the mutual aid so far, NHS England said.
NHS chief executive, Amanda Pritchard, said: ‘Despite significant pressure on services, NHS staff have already made incredible progress against our elective recovery plan, and this smart new tool will help us to continue to reduce long waits for patients.
‘It shows, once again, the benefits of having a national health service – NHS staff can now work even more closely with other hospitals across the country to identify capacity and conveniently match patients to available treatment and appointment slots.’
And health secretary Steve Barclay said: ‘We are using all tools at our disposal to bring down waiting lists – one of the government’s top five priorities – while this platform will also help us to drive better collaboration across the NHS and the independent sector to treat patients more quickly.’