Revolution in patient power coming
Next month sees the start of a growing revolution in patient power that will, from August, lead to every NHS patient waiting for more than six months for routine treatment being given a choice of two hospitals for their treatment.
Nationally, during April most NHS patients waiting more than six months will start to be able to choose to have a routine operation at their local hospital or another hospital further afield if it means they will get their operation more quickly. The new national initiative is called Choice.
In Norfolk, choice will be extended to patients needing General Surgery from June 30 2004, and Orthopaedic patients from August 31 2004. Over the next 12 months around 3,000 patients in central Norfolk will be eligible to get treatment under Choice and letters will be going out to those patients asking if they would like to choose when and where they have their operation.
Around 600 patients waiting for Orthopaedic operations in central Norfolk have already benefited from the early use of Choice and chose to have operations at other centres such as the West Suffolk Treatment Centre, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Middlesex, and in the private sector.
The second stage in the revolutionary approach to giving patients' far greater choice in their treatment will come in December 2005 when patients who see their family doctor about being referred to a hospital will be given a choice of four or five hospitals, including the private sector.
The idea behind Choice is to not only ensure people are facing shorter waits for treatments but to give patients much more say in where and when they are treated.
Tim Praill, Choice lead for the NHS in central Norfolk, said: “These reforms will mean patients will be well and truly in the driving seat as far as making informed decisions about when and where they get their treatment.”