Patient Alternative Choice Information

As part of the efforts to reduce waiting lists for planned treatments, NHS trusts are now taking proactive measures to reach out to patients who have been waiting for over 40 weeks, and do not have an appointment date within the next eight weeks, to explore the possibility of seeing them sooner at a different hospital. It’s important to note that some clinical exclusions may apply.

If you’re an eligible patient, you will be contacted directly by the NHS trust or the independent sector provider you’re currently under the care of. Please don’t contact your GP practice or NHS hospital proactively about this offer, you will be contacted automatically if you’re an eligible patient.

Once you’re invited to consider your options, you will be provided with more information about the right to choose process.

Frequently asked questions

If an alternative provider is not identified, the patient will be informed and will remain with their current provider.

The NHS trust or independent sector provider who is currently overseeing the patient’s care is responsible for contacting those eligible. If the patient’s request progresses, it is the responsibility of the integrated care board (ICB) to try and find an alternative hospital appropriate for the patient.

The patient’s position on their current waiting list will not be impacted if a new provider isn’t identified.

Phase one is for patients waiting over 40 weeks. We will widen the offer in a phased approach over the coming months.

Not all patients waiting over 40 weeks will be invited to request to move provider. Patients who have been waiting over 40 weeks and have an appointment date within the next 8 weeks will be excluded from the process on the basis that it will be quicker for them to remain with their current provider than move to an alternative provider.

In addition, there may be some patients whose clinical condition means that it would not be appropriate to move provider. This is particularly relevant to patients whose condition is clinically complex.

Patients are invited to submit their details into the national digital solution, Patient Initiated Digital Mutual Aid System (PIDMAS), and select the hospital they are currently under the care of. The patient details will be sent to the hospital for them to be reviewed and then shared with the integrated care board (ICB) if the patient is appropriate to move provider.

The patient will be told if a new provider has been found or not within five to six weeks of starting the process. If a patient is not clinically appropriate to move it is expected they will be told with two to three weeks.

We will be including patients under 18 in a future cohort.

There is the existing NHS Travel Reimbursement Scheme which can be utilised. 

We have also asked integrated care boards (ICBs) to ensure that the longest waiting patients who are prepared to travel beyond their local hospitals to receive earlier treatment are not disadvantaged based on their personal circumstances. Each individual will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. 

No, the patient will be under the care of the chosen provider throughout their pathway of care until they are discharged. This includes any subsequent appointments. This is clear on the homepage of the Patient Initiated Digital Mutual Aid System (PIDMAS) website.

No. Some patients may respond immediately – others may take weeks to decide that they wish to opt in. There are no restrictions.

There will be no additional cost to the NHS or the patient if they decide to use an independent sector provider.

A telephone assistance line will be provided in any direct communication to eligible patients.

If a patient has been waiting over 18 weeks, they have the right to request to move provider. If a patient has been waiting over 26 weeks, it is the responsibility of the integrated care board (ICB) to make every effort to identify an alternative provider to enable the patient to receive earlier treatment.

This announcement relates to patients who have been waiting over 40 weeks, and meet the eligibility criteria, as they will now be contacted proactively and asked if they would like to move provider if one with a shorter waiting time can be found.