Patients will be encouraged to use the NHS app for private hospital bookings in a bid to cut waiting times.
According to The Times, patients will be encouraged to use the app with dozens of private diagnostic centres offering checks for cancer and other conditions to speed up care and increase the NHS’ capacity.
The report said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak believes offering more choice for patients on their local hospital’s performance will increase standards across the board.
In the coming weeks Mr Sunak is expected to promote patient choice and make it the default for those referred for routine care with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer outlining his plan to improve the NHS in a speech on Monday.
A statement from the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Cutting waiting lists is one of the Government’s top five priorities with the NHS app playing a vital role in giving patients greater control over their own care and supporting elective care recovery.
“We have already started to implement the Elective Recovery Taskforce’s work and a full plan will be published soon, outlining how we can go even further to unlock the independent sector to get patients treated more quickly and reduce waiting lists.”
The independent sector use of the NHS is up to 143% of pre-pandemic levels, but the department says they have cut 18-month waits by 91% and two-year waits have been “virtually eliminated”.
Sir Keir’s speech will address the record numbers of people on waiting lists, putting pressure on Mr Sunak to provide a timeline to improve NHS standards.
He will tell the audience a Labour government “will deliver an NHS that is there when you need it”, adding: “No backsliding, no excuses. We will meet these standards again. We will get the NHS back on its feet.”
By reforming the NHS and training the staff it needs, the party will promise to hit NHS targets within five years in order to ensure ambulances get to people in time to save lives, get people seen by a GP when they need, stop people facing dangerously long waits in A&E and guarantee shorter waits for hospital appointments when people need specialist care.
He will say: “We have a plan. We will fight for the NHS. We will fix the NHS. We will reform the NHS. Old values, new opportunities. Technology and science, convenience and control, renewal not decline.
“An NHS, not just off its knees but running confidently towards the future.”