Cornwall Living 2018

The choice is yours

Dan Williams at Duchy Hospital helps to decipher the choice of where to have your NHS surgery.

Many people don’t realise that, since 2005, patients have had the right to choose any hospital or treatment centre in England for their operation, when being referred for NHS surgery. With the NHS e-referral service, in Cornwall, your NHS referral gets passed onto the Referral Management Service (RMS). The RMS then calls patients to offer a choice of location for their appointment and surgery.

Choice is a wonderful thing, but it can also be bewildering. With so much choice, how do you make a decision? Many chat to friends and family, but there are more scientific, reliable ways to discover which would be best for you, with a wealth of information to help make an informed choice. Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Duchy Hospital, Mr Dan Williams, says: “Patients are likely to achieve a more successful outcome from their surgery by getting involved with decisions affecting their care right from the start. Choosing the best place to be treated by using the wealth of information available is the beginning of this process.” Of course, we all have different priorities, but these largely fall into the following categories: waiting times, distance from home, infection rates, clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction.

Wait times 

The wait time given by the RMS may be for an initial outpatient appointment rather than the treatment itself, so it’s a good idea to clarify this. To see average wait times, visit, choose the ‘Services near you’ tab, select the specialty (for example, Orthopaedics) and location, then choose the hospital from the list.

Distance from home  

The closest hospital which can offer you the treatment you require will also be given to you by the RMS when they call you.

Infection rates 

These can be found in a Quality Account, an annual report about the quality of services by an NHS healthcare provider. Visit the NHS Choices website:

Clinical outcomes  

PROMs (Patient Reported Outcome Measures) data comes from asking patients to rate their condition before and several months after surgery to find out how it has affected their symptoms, such as pain and function. One measure used is the Oxford Score. Compare the hospital’s score to the national average to get a good idea of the quality of outcomes achieved. For example, the gain in Oxford knee score, following knee replacement at the Duchy Hospital, increases by 18 points compared to a national average of 16 points.

Patient satisfaction 

PLACE (Patient Led Assessment of the Care Environment) assessments gauge how hospitals support patients’ privacy and dignity, food, cleanliness and general building maintenance. According to May 2016 data, 100% of the Duchy Hospital patients surveyed said there were enough staff and nurses to care for them and 100% felt that they were involved enough in decisions about their care and treatment. View the full survey by visiting Patient satisfaction can also be gauged from the hospital’s friends and family test, with details available in the ‘Quality of service’ or ‘Key facts’ section of the specific hospital on the NHS website.


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