NHS patients to be offered more choice about where they are treated from 31 October

A new national initiative, aimed at offering patients a potential alternative choice of where to have their treatment, is set to launch on Tuesday 31 October 2023.  The Patient Initiated Digital Mutual Aid System (PIDMAS) has been created to help manage the process. 

Aerial view photograph of the Barnsley Hospital site

From October 31, patients who have been waiting over 40 weeks for treatment and do not have an appointment date within the next eight weeks, could be eligible to request to move to a different hospital to be treated sooner.

Those eligible will be contacted by the hospital they are under the care of and given a weblink and telephone number to submit a request to explore their options. Providers will determine the best way to contact patients and have been provided with draft text message and letter/email wording.

Once a patient has submitted their details, including how far they are willing to travel, this will be reviewed by the hospital they are currently under the care of. If a patient is deemed clinically and socially appropriate to move the process will then begin. If a patient opts to request to move (options are 50 miles, 100 miles or nationally) it is the role of the ICB to make every effort to identify an appropriate alternative hospital.

However, there may be circumstances in which it is not clinically appropriate to move to a different hospital or alternative capacity is not available. If there is no capacity available locally (within 50 or 100 miles) and a patient is willing to travel nationally, the details will be uploaded to the digital mutual aid system (PIDMAS) and other hospitals will be able to offer to treat the patient if appropriate. If an alternative provider is identified then a patient will be contacted and asked if they would like to proceed.

If an alternative hospital isn’t found the patient will remain with their current provider and they will receive an appointment as soon as one becomes available.

Each NHS provider will determine the best way to contact patients, with many using text messaging. It is anticipated that around 7,000 patients will be contacted across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw as part of the launch.

Patients have been advised that they should wait to be contacted and that they do not need to contact their hospital or GP practice.

The Patient Initiated Digital Mutual Aid System is part of the NHS' work to help reduce elective waiting lists and provide greater patient choice.