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PIDMAS - patient-initiated digital mutual aid system

In England NHS patients have the right to request to move to a different hospital to receive their care / treatment if they have been waiting longer than 18 weeks.

As the NHS continues to recover from the covid pandemic we are initially contacting patients who have been waiting over 40 weeks for their first outpatient appointment or for their operation and inviting them to consider whether they wish to move hospital to receive earlier care / treatment. This initial cohort excludes patients under 18 years and those that have been referred from another hospital) and patients with a date for their appointment/operation before 31 December 2023.

Please be aware that by making a request to move your care to another hospital, your entire pathway of care will be moved. This includes all appointments, any required treatment / surgery and any follow up care.

You may have been referred to the hospital by your general practitioner (GP) or another community clinician and are waiting for your first appointment or you may have previously been seen at the hospital and are awaiting an operation.

If a patient requests to move, every effort will be made to identify an alternative hospital, however there may be circumstances in which it is not clinically appropriate to move to a different hospital or alternative capacity is not available. In these circumstances you will remain on the waiting list at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and will be contacted as soon as an appointment becomes available.

Patients are being contacted via text message and postal letter (for those patients who we do not have a mobile number on record or have requested they are not contacted by text) as part of this work. The SMS text message will show in your messages as CUH NHS UK and is a legitimate text message from the hospital.

In the text message / letter, patients will be given information regarding which department they are waiting to be seen by and a link to the national Patient Choice portal. If patients would like to be considered for treatment elsewhere they will need to click on the link and complete the required information. This information will then be sent to the relevant department for clinical review to see if it is appropriate for the patient to move hospital. There will also be a national helpline number (included in the patient text / letter) if patients have any queries regarding the process or are unable to access the link.

Please read through the questions and answers below for more information.

Is there a time limit to respond to the text message/letter?

No, some patients may respond immediately – others may take weeks to decide that they wish to opt in. There are no restrictions

Will treatment be carried out at an NHS hospital?

As part of the scheme, patients could be treated at either an NHS hospital or an independent hospital - patients will not incur any additional costs if they decide to move to an independent sector provider.

What happens if an alternative provider is identified?

If an alternative provider is identified, the patient will be contacted and asked if they would like to proceed and next steps will be discussed.

If the patient agrees to proceed with moving to an alternative care provider, they will be discharged from our care, removed from the Cambridge University Hospitals waiting list and will not be able to transfer their care back to the hospital.

What happens if a patient opts to receive care by an alternative provider and then is offered an appointment at Cambridge University Hospitals soon after?

If a patient opts to receive care/treatment by another care provider, they will remain under the care of Cambridge University Hospitals until an alternative has been identified.

If they then receive an appointment/treatment offer at Cambridge University Hospitals before another care provider is identified, they can retract their decision and continue their care at Cambridge University Hospitals.

Once an alternative provider has been secured, their care pathway at Cambridge University Hospitals will stop

How long could a patient be waiting for an appointment/treatment at Cambridge University Hospitals?

We are unable to determine exactly when you will be offered an appointment/treatment at Cambridge University Hospitals. However, eligible patients will have been waiting over 40 weeks already, and will not have a confirmed appointment before 31 December 2023.

What happens to the current position on the Cambridge University Hospitals waiting list?

If an alternative care provider isn’t found, the patient will remain in their current position on the waiting list at Cambridge University Hospitals and they will receive an appointment as soon as one becomes available.

How will patients’ details be shared with other providers?

Patients are invited to submit their details into the PIDMAS system and select the hospital they are currently under the care of (Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust). They will be asked for consent to share their details with alternative care providers, such as other hospitals and the Integrated Care Board.

Once the patient has consented, their details will be used to review whether it is appropriate for them to move to an alternative care provider.

How long will the process take?

Patients will be told if an alternative care provider has been found or not within five to six weeks of starting the process.

If a patient is not clinically appropriate to move to an alternative care provider, it is expected they will be told within two to three weeks.

Will patients be transferred back to the hospital after they have received treatment at the alternative provider?

No, patients will be under the care of the chosen provider throughout their pathway of care until they are discharged. This includes any subsequent appointments.

Are eligible patients entitled to expenses for travel and accommodation?

There is the existing NHS Travel Reimbursement Scheme which can be utilised if patients opt to receive care and treatment by an alternative care provider.

When will other patients on the waiting list be offered a choice to move to an alternative care provider?

The first phase of this approach is focusing on patients who have been waiting over 40 weeks for treatment.

The offer will be widened in a phased approach over the coming months.

When will those under 18 years of age be be offered a choice to move to an alternative care provider?

We will be including patients under the age of 18 in a future cohort, as part of a phased approach.

Please note that this contact is in addition to any communications you may receive regarding whether you still require your appointment / procedure.

Information about waiting list validation.

We would like to assure you that:

  • Our communication will only ever ask questions relating to your care
  • We will never ask for bank details or make reference to money or payment
  • We will never ask you for your name or address. Please note you may need to provide personal details if you are creating a new NHS login or are contacting the national helpline to submit your request where you will be asked particular information relating to your request
  • Our message will only include a link to the national Patient Choice website and our hospital website.