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A pilot system, run by NHS England’s Behavioural Insights Team, has proven successful in making it easier for GPs to understand the waiting times at hospitals for their patients.
Two trials in London of the e-traffic light system have shown promise, with red lights, which indicate a hospital with longer waiting times, helping GPS reduce referrals to overbooked hospitals by nearly 40 per cent. Meanwhile, a green light indicates hospitals with spare capacity, meaning doctors can offer patients potentially quicker routes to treatment and help them make more informed choices. The two trials showed that this increased referrals to hospitals with available capacity by 14 per cent this winter.
Following the success of the trials in North East and South West London, the Behavioural Insights Team is now supporting the roll-out of the Capacity Alert 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.”
Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “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.”