38670 - NHS: Correspondence (Answered)

Dr Tania Mathias
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, if he will take steps to reduce the cost to the NHS of postage of appointment notifications to patients.

George Freeman

The National Information Board’s strategy document Personalised Health and Care 2020 (published November 2014) set out the aim to support greater uptake of the use of digital systems in health and care to create a National Health Service paper free at the point of care by 2020. This will remove the system’s reliance on paper and will help reduce postal service costs for the NHS.

In the case of appointment letters for patients the new NHS e-referral system, introduced last year, already allows healthcare providers to choose not to send out appointment letters, instead allowing patients to access the information directly from the NHS e-referral system. Patients have an option to print off the details of their appointment if they prefer to have a paper copy of the information. We expect increasing numbers of providers will use this functionality to help contain costs.