Local NHS welcomes increased patient choice

Published on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 22:38
Posted by Scott Buckler

Patients now have a greater choice of local health providers, as Hampshire, Southampton and Portsmouth welcomes Any Qualified Provider (AQP) - with services going live between now and March 2013

The aim of AQP, a national scheme, is to extend choice; enabling patients who are referred by their GP for a particular community service to choose, where appropriate, from a range of qualified providers and select the one that best meets their needs.

Earlier this year, following a local consultation with the public, other stakeholders and the emerging Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), the first three services were chosen from a national list for extending patient choice of provider.

The AQP services available in Hampshire, Southampton and Portsmouth are:

•           Adult hearing services (for over 55s)

•           Musculoskeletal services for back and neck pain - 'MSK' (for adults)

•           Continence Services for Adults and Children.

Access to the Adult Hearing and MSK service - is via the patient's GP. Continence services are open to self-referral, as well as via the patient's GP.

Following a rigorous national and local qualification process, there is now a gradual introduction of providers delivering these three services under AQP locally. It is anticipated that all successful applicants will be providing their service by March 2013.

AQP services can be provided by a range of qualified providers, including NHS providers and the independent sector, and all are paid a standard price.

Patients needing a range of operations or other planned care have had choice of where they are treated for some time.

Extending patient choice is a key priority for the future of the NHS - and AQP means even more choice for patients. For example, a patient with hearing problems may prefer to visit a provider on the High Street or a mobile clinic rather than go to hospital.

Extending patient choice of provider is expected to:

•           Allow patients to choose where they receive further treatment.

•           Provide improved access to services which are closer to home and have extended weekend and evening opening times.

•           Improve quality and reduce waiting times to access the services.

•           Deliver clinically effective treatments, which reduce the demand on secondary care services and reduce the need for more costly treatments.

•           Provide community services that have a strong emphasis on patient education and self-management.

Dr Stuart Ward, Medical Director for the Southampton, Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Portsmouth Primary Care Trust (SHIP PCT) Cluster, said: "A greater range of community services are now available under AQP and, from April 2013, CCGs will be considering plans for further enhancement of patient choice."

"Please speak to your GP to find out what choice of provider there is in your area for the three services. The local NHS will also be distributing posters and leaflets to GP surgeries, for patients to access more information about choice of provider."

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