NHS reforms

24.04.18

Traffic light system could reduce hospital waiting times

A pilot system is making it easier for GPs to understand the hospital waiting times experienced by their patients.

The e-traffic light system could help to reduce hospital waiting times and offer patients a clearer choice of treatment, NHS England has said.

The trial from the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) saw a modification to the GP referral system, with a red light appearing against a hospital with longer waiting times and a green light against those with spare capacity.

This Capacity Alert System means that GPs can offer patients a potentially quicker route to treatment and help them to make more informed choices.

Two London trials have been carried out and NHS England says that the results have been promising, with referrals to overbooked hospitals reduced by almost 40%.

Green lights increased referrals to hospitals with available capacity by 14% this winter.

The system was developed after NHS England commissioned BIT to develop ways of helping hospital trusts to ease pressure on services.

Following the success of the trials in north east and south west London, BIT is supporting the roll out of the system across the NHS in England.

Matthew Swindells, NHS England director for operations and information, said: “This system makes it even easier for GPs and patients to understand hospital waiting times which will in turn see benefits for patients and hospitals.

“The Capacity Alert system is a good example of how smarter working and relatively simple innovations can lead to another big improvement in NHS services.”

BIT will hold a series of masterclasses and workshops across the country to help with the roll out.

Hannah Burd, senior advisor at BIT, explained: “It’s in all our interests that patients and GPs have the most up to date information about their options when deciding where to go for care. This simple and cheap intervention supports these conversations and helps the referrals system to run more efficiently.”

Chair of the Royal College of GPs, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, added: “Sometimes the most simple-sounding ideas are the most effective, and this scheme appears to be a relatively straightforward way of improving the interface between primary and secondary care, in order to make our patients’ journey through the NHS as seamless as possible.

“We look forward to seeing how this idea translates to other areas of the country in the best interests of patients and the wider NHS.”

Top image: ktsimage

 

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