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Let patients choose hospital with shortest wait, says former health secretary

All patients should be able to choose the hospital with the shortest waiting times, a former health secretary has said.

Alan Milburn, the Labour health secretary under Tony Blair from 1999 to 2003, called for urgent reforms and warned that the NHS was “close to breaking point” and “in the worst state I have ever seen”.

A record 6.7 million people are now on waiting lists, with the numbers waiting in Accident and Emergency departments for at least 12 hours surging by more than a third in a month.

Writing for The Telegraph, Mr Milburn called for urgent reforms to give patients more choice and control while preventing a “tsunami” of chronic diseases fuelled by unhealthy lifestyles.

In recent months, ministers have promised that those facing the longest waits will be offered treatment further away and offered travel and accommodation costs, but only around 140 patients were booked in for such surgery by June.

Mr Milburn called for the option to be offered to all patients, urging health officials to use the NHS app as a way for people to chose the hospital with the shortest wait. So far, officials have promised to ensure that the app allows patients to check the average waiting time at their local hospital for their condition and compare it with others.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: The Telegraph, 17 August 2022


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