NHS: Elective care patients get more choice

NATIONALLY patients who are referred for elective care will now be offered a choice of four or more locally commissioned providers. Patients in East Cambridgeshire and Fenland referred for a first outpatient appointment will be offered a choice of five a

NATIONALLY patients who are referred for elective care will now be offered a choice of four or more locally commissioned providers.

Patients in East Cambridgeshire and Fenland referred for a first outpatient appointment will be offered a choice of five acute hospitals, which are:

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn

Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Huntingdon

Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (Addenbrookes) Cambridge

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West Suffolk Hospitals, Bury St Edmunds.

Other choices will also include our three community hospitalsin East Cambridgeshire and Fenland:

The Princess of Wales Hospital, Ely

Doddington Hospital

North Cambs Hospital, Wisbech.

Additional choices may also include services provided by a GP with a special interest such as dermatology, gynaecology and endoscopy

Patients will be offered this choice when they are referred by their doctor for a first outpatient appointment (for example non-emergency care).

Frequently Asked Questions

# How many people will be affected?

Patients referred for elective care will be able to choose from four or more providers when clinically appropriate. In total, 9.5 million patients are referred for elective care each year and all eligible patients have the right to be offered choice.

# Who will actually help the patient make the choice? Will GPs physically go through the choices with the patient in the surgery?

Following a decision to refer, GPs are asked to introduce choice to patients and discuss the clinically appropriate choices for the patient.

Patients and clinicians can then access a range of further information and support from the local services provided nationally and by the PCT.

East Cambs and Fenland patients requiring additional Choice support and advice can contact the Patient Choice Co-ordinator (PCC), Pauline Jackson, Free phone 0808 2380088.

# Will I get free transport and how will I know whether I am eligible or not?

Patients currently eligible for free transport, either under the hospital transport costs scheme (for patients on low incomes) or through patient transport services (for patients requiring transport on the basis of a medical assessment), will continue to be eligible for free transport to any hospitals on their PCT's choice menu.

Patients will continue to find out if they are eligible for free transport through these schemes in the same way as before - through either their GP or they're chosen provider.

# How do patients book their choice?

GPs will be able to send a referral letter to the provider in the usual way and the provider will then contact the patient to offer a choice of data and time.

GPs' practices that are linked to providers integrated to the Choose and Book programme will be able to book referrals directly. Alternatively patients will be able to book an appointment by calling a Choose and Book appointment line. If a provider is operating an Indirectly Bookable Service patients will be given the contact details and be able to contact the provider directly to book their appointment, they will be offered a choice of date and time in this way.

# What are you doing to ensure equitable access to choice?

Centrally, information booklets are being produced which will be tailored to each PCT to provide patients with easily accessible printed information about choices available to them. All PCTs are required to make targeted support and information available to hard to reach groups and disadvantaged communities.

In East Cambs and Fenland this support includes GPs, GP practice staff and patient choice co-ordinator Pauline Jackson.

# How and at what point will people get the booklets?

The booklets are intended for patients referred for planned elective care by their GPs and who will be offered choice at referral. Most patients should be given a booklet by their GP or be able to pick one up at the surgery.

PCTs will be able to make copies of the booklet available in other locations to support choice e.g. libraries. It is planned that the Choice booklets will be available from the end of January 2006.

# How up to date will the information be in the booklets?

It is recognised that information in the booklets will need to be updated to take account of revisions to the PCT's choice menus. That is why the booklets will be updated in the summer to include any changes and newly-published performance data.

Patients will also be able to access hospital information on the website www.nhs.uk and the Healthcare Commission website for the latest information about providers' performance.

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