NHS England has launched a portal for those on waiting lists to access support and find out more how long they may have to wait.
It is part of the Government’s elective recovery plan to help keep patients up to date and provide online support to help them get fit for surgery.
The ‘My Planned Care’ platform, launched yesterday, was announced earlier this month under NHS plans to tackle the backlog of six million patients waiting for elective procedures.
Under the first stage of the platform, NHS England said around 5.5 million patients will be able to search on the site to find the average waiting time at their local hospital for the specialist area they need treatment in.
Initially data from 137 NHS Trusts is included on the site and GPs and primary care teams will also be able to access the information to aid informed conversations with patients.
NHS England said the platform would be expanded in the coming months to include personalised information and support for patients on the waiting list to help them stay well while they wait, including advice on how best to manage symptoms.
In the future, the platform which is expected to move onto the NHS App, will also include advice on stopping smoking as well as on diet and exercise, to help patients get ready for surgery and make sure they recover as quickly as possible.
An estimated third of on-the-day surgery cancellations happen because the patient is not ‘clinically ready for treatment’, NHS England said.
It includes patients who have a long-term condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure which has not been identified or treated properly.
NHS staff are also being encouraged to draw on social prescribing link workers and care co-ordinators to support patients while they are waiting for care.
It has also been announced that targeted packages of support will be rolled out to support patients with the longest waits or those with the greatest need.
The elective recovery plan had also outlined an expansion to advice and guidance services for GPs and had warned the waiting list is likely to continue growing for another two years.
Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director at NHS England, said: ‘Treating more than 600,000 Covid patients in hospital over the last two years has inevitably had an impact on routine care and staff are doing everything they can to reduce the backlogs that have inevitably built up.
‘We know that it can be frustrating for patients who are waiting and so this online site will help to give patients and their families crucial information about how long they might have to wait, helping them feel more informed about their treatment plan.’