Delayed patients will be able to switch providers, says Sajid Javid
Patients would have more choices about their treatment options, including choosing alternative providers if their operations are delayed, under plans to be announced by the Health Secretary.
Sajid Javid said while his proposals would benefit patients, they could also help “significantly” to reduce the backlog of planned care.
Further details are expected to be worked out when Mr Javid delivers a speech on Tuesday.
The Sunday Times reported that patients referred for hospital care will be able to view the waiting time for their local hospital online and compare it with wait times for any hospital in the country, including private ones.
Mr Javid told the newspaper: ‘The NHS constitution already says that as a patient you have the right to request another provider for your treatment.
“In practice, nobody really succeeds. It’s not really targeted and even if a person wanted to exercise that right right now, it’s up to them to do all the homework and they’re not really supported in that decision.
He said it was “not acceptable”, adding that he wanted to “enshrine that right” so that patients have “options, they have choices”.
The Health Secretary added: ‘They may stay with their local supplier, maybe it could be another NHS supplier. And if it’s another NHS provider, let’s say they have to travel for it, they should be covered in their travel costs, maybe accommodation costs, including maybe that someone accompanies them to support them.
“Or it could be an independent supplier in the independent sector. The point is that people should have that choice and it should be easy for them to exercise that right.
On how this will help reduce the backlog, he said that with more providers involved in trying to deal with the long waiting lists, “you will clear the backlog faster than not”.
Data released last month by NHS England showed a record 6.1million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of December – the highest number since records began in August 2007.
Mr Javid’s plan is also expected to include a reference to a possible move towards academy-style hospitals to improve performance across the NHS, The Sunday Times reported.