Alternative choices for your care

Patient initiated requests to move provider (PIDMAS)

In England, NHS patients have the right to request to move to a different hospital to receive their care/treatment if they have been waiting longer than 18 weeks.

As part of the work we are doing to reduce the length of time our patients wait for care, NHS trusts are now proactively contacting patients who have been waiting over 40 weeks*, and do not have an appointment date within the next eight weeks, to consider their options to see if they could be seen sooner at a different hospital. This is commonly known as PIDMAS. It stands for Patient Initiated Digital Mutual Aid System.

If you are eligible, you will receive a SMS text message and/or letter which will tell you how you can request to be considered for transfer to another hospital to receive care/treatment. Please do not contact us or your GP practice proactively regarding this offer – we will contact you.

If you wish to be considered for transferring your care, you will need to follow the instructions in your letter when you receive it. Based on the information you send back and a review from the clinical team, the NHS will identify whether there are other options that are available and suitable for you.

If you want to stay with the Royal Devon then you don’t need to do anything at all – you will still be on the waiting list for your care and treatment at the Royal Devon.

By registering for a transfer of care, this does not guarantee that a suitable provider will be found and does not guarantee that you will be seen more quickly. If you are offered an appointment at the Royal Devon during the process of transferring your care, then we really encourage you to accept that appointment.

Please see the FAQs for more information.

(*some clinical exclusions apply)


Will I get treated more quickly by choosing to go somewhere else?

The aim of the process is to find potential alternative hospitals where you may be able to be seen quicker, but this cannot be guaranteed. The alternatives offered to you will be quicker to the best of our knowledge.

Can I choose which hospital I can go to?

You do not have a right to choose a specific hospital, and although we will make every effort to seek an alternative, there may not be an alternative hospital available. If there is more than one alternative hospital where you can have your care, we will offer you a choice. The hospitals offered to you will be based on their ability to see you more quickly and the distance you have indicated you are willing to travel. Please note that the transfer will be for all your care relating to that referral, including follow-up appointments.

Is there any financial support to help me travel to another hospital?

Most patients are expected to pay for their own transport to and from the hospital.

Some people are eligible for help with health costs, such as travel to hospital. Through the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS), you may be eligible if you and your family:

  • Receive Income Support
  • Receive Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Receive Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Receive Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • Receive Universal Credit and meet the criteria
  • You are named on, or entitled to, an NHS tax exemption certificate
  • You have a low income and are named on certificate HC2 (full help) or HC3 (limited help)

You will need to pay for the travel and claim back the costs. More information about this scheme is available here: NHS travel costs scheme

Do I need to pay more to be treated at a different hospital?

No. Regardless of whether you are transferred to another NHS hospital or the independent sector, there will be no additional costs to you or to the NHS.

How long will the process take?

We expect you will be told if a new provider has been found or not within eight weeks of starting the process.

What happens if I don’t respond to the letter?

You will remain on the Royal Devon waiting list and we will contact you when there is an available appointment or date for surgery, depending on which one you are waiting for.

Can I change my mind?

Yes, you can let people know when they contact you at any stage of the transfer process if you have changed your mind.

Once you have moved your care to another hospital, you will no longer be on the waiting lists at the Royal Devon, and you will need to contact your new hospital to ask them to be moved back.

There is also no time limit for responding to the SMS text message/letter from the NHS. If you later decide you would like to be considered for transfer to a different hospital, you can follow the instructions in your letter to get started.

Will I be able to have any tests nearer to home?

This is dependent on what your new hospital can offer to you. Once you have moved your care to another hospital, all your appointments, tests, treatments, and check-ups will be with the new hospital.

Do I have to travel for follow-up appointments?

Yes, unless the hospital has an alternative available, for example a telephone or video follow-up appointment.

How will I be contacted once I have made a request?

The NHS will use the mobile phone number and email you used to register for the NHS App or any other NHS websites or apps e.g. COVID-19 services to send you updates about your request. Please check your mobile number and email address are up to date when making a request. On some occasions you may get updates directly from the Royal Devon and these will most likely be a letter.

What should I do if the Royal Devon contacts me and offers me an appointment or a date for my surgery?

If you have requested to transfer your care to a different hospital and the Royal Devon contacts you in the meantime to offer you your first appointment or a date for admission, then it is your choice if you would like to accept and remain with the Royal Devon, or to continue with transferring your care. Whether you accept or decline the appointment or admission date, it would be helpful to tell the hospital team that you had requested a transfer through PIDMAS, so that your records at Royal Devon can be updated.

I’ve been waiting for my appointment for longer than 40 weeks, but I haven’t received a letter. Why is this?

Not all patients are eligible for the current programme. For example, if you are on a waiting list for community-led services like physiotherapy or podiatry then you will not be contacted.

What should I do if I have any further queries?

Please check the website for your current provider or contact the Devon Referral Support Service on or 01626 883 888.

Last updated: November 13, 2023.