Choice of Alternative Provider (COAP)

To manage the length of time some patients have to wait for treatment following the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has announced changes which came into effect on 31 October 2023, that give patients with excessive waits the option to move to another suitable hospital or treatment provider with a shorter waiting list if one is available in the area.

This initiative is known as Choice of Alternative Provider

Eligible patients will be sent a text message or a letter, which contains details of the national portal where they can request a transfer. The portal is known as the National Patient Initiated Digital Mutual Aid System (PIDMAS). There is also a national helpline for patients who have been contacted about transferring their care to another provider, details of which are provided in the letter/text message. 

Frequently asked questions

Why have I received a text message asking if I would like to move hospitals?

You have received a text message because you have been waiting a long time for treatment. To support recovering our waiting times, patients in England are being offered the option to consider moving to another healthcare provider with shorter waits.

Do I have to request to move hospitals?

No, you do not have to opt in. It is entirely voluntary.

Can I stay at my current hospital?

Yes, of course, you can stay on our waiting list.

Will I definitely be offered a shorter wait for my condition?

We cannot guarantee that there will be another provider for your condition within the distance that you can travel with a shorter wait. As BWC is a specialist centre, we might be the only provider available for you.

What will happen if I ask to move hospitals?

If you ask to be considered to move hospitals, your request will be sent to your current provider. Your case will be checked by a clinician who will confirm whether it is clinically safe to move your care to another provider. If the clinician agrees that there is no clinical reason why you should not move, then your request will go to the Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care Board who will confirm with you whether there is capacity for your condition within the distance you can travel.

I can’t use the internet but would like to be considered to move, what do I do?

Please contact the national helpline on the number provided in your letter for assistance.

Can I move more than once?

No, the offer of COAP through PIDMAS is only available once. However, you can request to return to your GP and be re-referred to an NHS-funded provider of your choice.

If I move and change my mind, can I come back to BWC?

Patients will be managed on a case-by-case basis, or you can go back to your GP to be re-referred back to BWC.

How long will this process take?

It should take no longer than 6 weeks for the process to be completed.