The platform, My Planned Care, will let patients check local hospital waiting times for specialist treatment – in order to fight the NHS COVID backlog
My Planned Care, launched initially to 5.5 million people, will allow both doctors and patients to check on expected wait times at local hospitals. The timeline of specialist treatment, delayed across the UK by the imminent needs of the pandemic, will now be possible to see.
The NHS say that data from 137 trusts will be available.
My Planned Care to provide advice for those waiting longest
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Alongside new surgical hubs to ramp up operations and Community Diagnostic Centres to provide faster diagnoses closer to home, the My Planned Care platform will help us put patients in control.”
The new service will – in future – tell patients how to look after themselves while they wait for specialist treatment. The service will also aim to give advice about quitting smoking, tips on diet and exercise, and then advice on recovery.
Healthcare workers are being advised to think about how they can use social prescribing link workers and care co-ordinators to support those who are stuck in the NHS COVID backlog, waiting for treatment.
Backlog to continue, without investment of two billion
According to economists at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the number of people waiting for treatment will rise to nine million in 2022. The number of waiting patients is expected to decrease by 2025 – only if the NHS treats an additional 1.6 million people per year, on top of what the service is already doing.
Around two billion pounds would be needed to make this timeline work.
The NHS COVID backlog, while building up during the pandemic, was already in existence. The UK Health and Social Care Committee said that they were told by NHS Providers that “demand was already outstripping capacity” – before the pandemic hit the UK in 2019.
A broken conversation between doctor and patient?
Currently, there is a dissonance between doctor and patient, with individuals having to act as their own medical advocate – as the NHS is stretched thin under the ongoing crisis of this backlog. People with serious issues are left to figure things out for themselves, or chase appointments that can be elusive.
Shirley Cochrane, an expert by experience, explains her story of attempting to access post-cancer care during the pandemic.
She said: “Around the time of receiving the letter telling me to self-manage, I had some concerns. I thought that I had found a lump. I could not really get through on the generic number supplied, so I reached out to my local MP, Priti Patel. I said to her, ‘We are being told that the NHS is open for business, but I can’t get an appointment.’”
Since doctors will also have access to these timelines, they can be more informed in discussing options for their patients.
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.”