NHS waiting list information in seconds

Article date: 8 July 2003

The empowerment of NHS patients took another step forward today,as the most comprehensive source of information on NHS hospitalwaiting lists was released.

Norwich Union Healthcare has launched the Waiting List Guide,allowing people to find out information on total waiting times*– both the wait to see a consultant and the wait for theoperation – for 40 of the most common medical procedures.

The Waiting List Guide, part of Norwich Union Healthcare’sPersonal Health Manager, allows visitors to search for the firsttime waiting list data either by procedure, specialty, specific NHStrusts or trusts within selected postcodes and surroundingareas.

Nationally, the Government’s focus on hearts and commonoperations such as eye surgery appears to be paying off and showthe tide turning on waiting lists. Norwich Union Healthcare’sWaiting List Guide concludes:

  • Since 1998, the average total waiting time for a heart bypassprocedure has fallen by over 8 per cent to 210 days from 229days
  • The average total waiting time for a cataract procedure isdown almost nine per cent today at 245 days compared to 1998 (268days)

As the service launches, new research from Norwich UnionHealthcare reveals that almost two-thirds of adults have beenreferred to a specialist or consultant.

But nine in ten have never questioned the referral or asked togo to a different specialist or consultant – even if it meanta shorter wait.

Norwich Union has launched the Waiting List Guide in the hopethat patients will talk to their GPs when being referred to ensurethey have more say in the treatment they receive from the NHS.

Tim Baker, director of Norwich Union Healthcare, said: “Byempowering patients we may be able to help reduce NHS waitingtimes, which is why we’ve added the Waiting List Guide toPersonal Health Manager.

“This way patients can make better choices about thetreatment they receive and hopefully discuss them with theirGPs.”

This ‘patient empowerment’ factor was echoed by GPDr Ann Robinson who said: “Patients should be encouraged tohave a dialogue with their GPs when they are referred fortreatment. Services such as Personal Health Manager from NorwichUnion Healthcare can only improve this dialogue.

“There are many others who still believe that the doctorknows best and rarely question the referral that we offer. In myexperience, people who take control of their health, are often theones who get better healthcare. We should be encouraging people toquestion their medical care – it might be better forthem.”

The Waiting List Guide on Personal Health Manager was compiledby Dr Foster, an organisation that provides information andanalysis to the professional healthcare community.

This research was done by the Dr Foster Unit at the ImperialCollege of Science, Technology and Medicine.

Roger Taylor, research director at Dr Foster, said:“Patients should use this information to discuss theirtreatment with their GP. Although waiting times are only one aspectof hospital care, we believe these figures are helpful in givingthe public a head start in identifying where they might be able toget treatment on the NHS more quickly.”

Personal Health Manager offers round-the-clock help, advice andinformation for Norwich Union Healthcare customers and theirfamilies. It also provides telephone access to GPs 24 hours aday.

The service is available to individual Private Medical Insurancecustomers of Norwich Union Healthcare who register on the site aspart of the policy benefits available to them.

And Norwich Union Healthcare has set up a limited free trial ofPersonal Health Manager – including the Waiting List Guide.Simply call 0800 142 142+ quoting reference 4FBA3B0DA. The trialperiod for your readers will expire on 29 August 2003**


Media contact:
Matthew Buchanan/Jo Misson at QBO Bell Pottinger on 020 7861 2424(out of hours telephone number: 07766 914 746) or Lorna Wiltshireat Norwich Union Press Office on 01904 723236 or 07788 471849

Notes to editors:

*The total waiting time is calculated from two sources. Theaverage days wait for a first appointment with a consultant (theoutpatient wait) is estimated from published Department of Healthfigures for the percentage of patients seen within target times.The waiting time from seeing the consultant to going into hospitalfor an operation (the inpatient wait) is calculated from nationalhospital records (Hospital Episode Statistics). Data for Scotlandis sourced from the Scottish Executive.

**The 24-Hour GP Helpline is not available as part of the trial.Personal Health Manager is strictly available for use in, and byresidents of the UK, Isle of Man and Channel Islands only.

+For security and administration, calls and e-mails to and fromNorwich Union may be monitored and/or recorded.

Norwich Union commissioned TNS Global to conduct researchamongst 1,000 adults about their experiences and views about GPreferrals. Research was carried out in June 2003.

Norwich Union Healthcare was founded in 1990 as the healthcarearm of Norwich Union and now provides a range of income protectionand private medical insurance products to around 750,000 customers.It is one of the largest providers of income protection and privatemedical insurance in the UK.

Norwich Union Healthcare is a member of the General InsuranceStandards Council and the Association of British Insurers.

Norwich Union is the UK’s largest insurer. It is a leadingprovider of life, pensions and investment products and one of theleading IFA providers. IFAs provide around 70% of thecompany’s long-term savings business.

Norwich Union has strategic alliances with building societiesand other leading UK brand names including Tesco Personal Financeand The Royal Bank of Scotland Group.

Norwich Union’s news releases and a selection of imagesare available from Aviva's internet press centre atwww.aviva.com/media.

For all life & pensions media enquiries call 08703 66 6873
For all other media enquiries call 08703 66 68 68

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