Patient Choice - where to have your NHS Surgery

Patient Choice - where to have your NHS Surgery
Thursday 19 January 2017

Many people don’t realise that, since 2005, patients have had the right to choose any hospital or treatment centre in England for their operation, when being referred for NHS surgery. With the NHS e-referral service, in Devon, your NHS referral gets passed onto the Devon Referral Support Service (DRSS). Patients then receive a letter from the DRSS giving them information about how to progress their referral.

Choice is a wonderful thing, but it can also be bewildering. With so much choice, how do you make a decision?

Many chat to friends and family, but there are more scientific, reliable ways to discover which would be best for you, with a wealth of information to help make an informed choice.

Dr Jeremy Ackers, Medical Advisory Committee Chair at Mount Stuart Hospital, Torquay says: “Patients are likely to achieve a more successful outcome form their surgery by getting involved with decisions affecting their care right from the start. Choosing the best place to be treated by using the wealth of information available is the beginning of this process.”

Of course, we all have different priorities, but these largely fall into the following categories: waiting times, distance from home, infection rates, clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction.

Wait times

The wait time given by the DRSS may be for an initial outpatient appointment rather than the treatment itself, so it’s a good idea to clarify this. To see average wait times, visit, choose the ‘Services near you’ tab, select the specialty (for example, Orthopaedics) and location, then choose the hospital from the list.

Distance from home

The closest hospital which can offer you the treatment you require will also be given to you by the DRSS.

Infection rates

These can be found in a Quality Account, an annual report about the quality of services by an NHS healthcare provider.

Clinical outcomes

PROMs (Patient Reported Outcome Measures) data comes from asking patients to rate their condition before and several months after surgery to find out how it has affected their symptoms, such as pain and function. One measure used is the Oxford Score. Compare the hospital’s score to the national average to get a good idea of the quality of outcomes achieved. For example, the average Oxford hip score (Apr 15- Mar 16), following hip replacement at Mount Stuart Hospital, is 23 compared to a national average of 21.6.

Patient satisfaction

PLACE (Patient Led Assessment of the Care Environment) assessments gauge how hospitals support patients’ privacy and dignity, food, cleanliness and general building maintenance.

View the full survey here.

Patient satisfaction can also be gauged from the hospital’s friends and family test, with details available in the ‘Quality of service’ or ‘Key facts’ section of the specific hospital on the NHS website. For example, in 2016 100% of the Mount Stuart Hospital patients surveyed said there were enough staff and nurses to care for them and 100% felt that they were involved enough in decisions about their care and treatment.

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