Health Secretary, Jeremey Hunt, has said that the introduction of a new electronic booking system will enable patients, for the first time, to make ‘truly informed’ choices about the hospital they select.
It is understood that from next year onwards, GP’s will be able to pass on information about CQC ratings and waiting times for treatment on new e-referral systems, which will include patient experience, safety and quality of care. Although such a system will be putting patient interests first, concerns still remain surrounding the pressure which could arise on high quality hospitals.
Such concern has been expressed by chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, who amongst others stated how high performing trusts, already under pressure, may find an increased number of referrals overwhelming as patients choose to have treatments from hospitals with outstanding CQC ratings. He said: “Even providers with the highest quality ratings are finding it incredibly difficult to meet the competing demands of increasing elective activity and spiralling emergency work.”
He further stated how high quality providers would be, “punished for their success in delivering high quality services rather than rewarded,” if they do not receive the resources they require to deliver good healthcare.
However, in the past an increase in demand on hospital services has meant that trusts have opted out of area referral restrictions. This is despite NHS England introducing a section to the national standard contract which told all trusts to accept all referrals. It is yet to be seen whether hospitals will have to maintain open access to new patients when they have little capacity to treat them.