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Millions of patients on the waiting list for NHS care will be able to access support and check wait times easily and quickly with the launch of a new online platform.

Built in coordination with patient groups, My Planned Care is one of the latest measures in a major package of moves by the NHS to tackle the COVID backlog. The platform will allow patients and their carers to access information ahead of their planned appointment, operation or treatment through the touch of a button.

In this first stage, around 5.5 million patients – of the six million on the total waiting list – will be able to search on the site to find the average waiting time at their local hospital for the specialist area they need treatment in.

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The platform is part of the service’s plans to give patients more control over their own health and improved experience. Data from 137 NHS Trusts across England will be on the site, hosted by nhs.uk.

The announcement of the new online platform follows the publication of the NHS’ elective care backlog recovery plan, which set out the service’s plan for clearing elective backlogs caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Professor Stephen Powis, National Medical Director at NHS England, said: “Treating more than 600,000 covid patients in hospital over the last two years has inevitably had an impact on routine care and staff are doing everything they can to reduce the backlogs that have inevitably built up.

“We know that it can be frustrating for patients who are waiting and so this online site will help to give patients and their families crucial information about how long they might have to wait, helping them feel more informed about their treatment plan.”

My Planned Care will be expanded in the coming months, the NHS says, to include personalised information and support for patients on the waiting list to help them stay well while they wait, including advice on how best to manage symptoms.

Future expansion of the service will also include advice on stopping smoking as well as on diet and exercise, to help patients get ready for surgery and make sure they recover as quickly as possible.

NHS staff will also be encouraged to consider how they can draw on social prescribing link workers and care co-ordinators to support patients while they are waiting for care.

Targeted packages of support will be rolled out to support those patients waiting for procedures with the longest waits or those with the greatest need.

GPs and primary care teams will also be able to access the information, helping them to have more informed conversations with their patients.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid added: “This first of its kind platform will give millions of patients more certainty over their own care no matter who they are or where they live.

“Alongside new surgical hubs to ramp up operations and Community Diagnostic Centres to provide faster diagnoses closer to home, the My Planned Care platform will help us put patients in control.”

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