Millions of patients on the waiting list for NHS care will be able to access support and check wait times at their fingertips thanks to a new online platform launching today.
Built in conjunction with patient groups, My Planned Care is one of the latest measures in a major package of moves by the NHS to tackle the covid backlog.
The platform will allow patients and their carers to access information ahead of their planned appointment, operation or treatment through the touch of a button.
In this first stage, around 5.5 million patients - of the six million on the total waiting list - 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.
Data from 137 NHS Trusts across England will be on the site, hosted by nhs.uk, from today, just two weeks after the Elective Recovery Plan was published.
The platform will 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.
Future expansion of the service 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.
NHS staff will also be encouraged to consider how they can draw on social prescribing link workers and care co-ordinators to support patients while they are waiting for care.
Targeted packages of support will be rolled out to support those patients waiting for procedures with the longest waits or those with the greatest need.
GPs and primary care teams will also be able to access the information, helping them to have more informed conversations with their patients.
The Elective Recovery Plan set out a blueprint of measures to address backlogs built up during the pandemic and tackle long waits for care with an expansion in capacity for tests, checks and treatments.
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.
“And, as we have always said throughout the pandemic, it is vitally important that anybody who has health concerns continues to come forward, so that the NHS can help you get the care you need.”
The NHS is committed to improving patient experience and giving people greater control over their own health, and the My Planned Care platform has been developed rapidly to help deliver this service for patients.
My Planned Care forms part of wide-ranging plans to address the backlog, with more surgical hubs to be added to the network of 122 already operating across the country.
More than 100 diagnostic community centres are also being rolled out with the NHS aiming to ensure that by March 2025, nobody waits longer than a year for surgery.
Latest data from the NHS shows that in the whole of 2021, over two million more people underwent procedures like hip and knee replacements compared to 2020.