Patients will be encouraged to use the NHS app to find the quickest treatment options in a bid to address current waiting lists.

There have also been claims that patients will be able to book private treatment via the app in an effort to “unlock the independent sector” even further.

With millions facing waits for routine treatments, increasing the use of private hospitals is one idea being put forward to tackle the growing problem.

Patients will be encouraged to exercise their right to choose, with more data published on hospitals’ performances.

The private sector performs around 140,000 of the 1.5 million procedures that are funded by the NHS each month.

The Times newspaper recently reported that ministers are looking at how these numbers can be increased to reduce wait times.

More hospitals are set to be added to the NHS app, with private hospitals expected to be included.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “We have already started to implement the elective recovery task force’s work and a full plan will be published soon – outlining how we can go even further to unlock the independent sector.”

Top of the agenda is cancer checks to reduce the delays which medics are concerned may result in many early deaths.

The target for cancer patients to start treatment within two months is 85% but currently that figure stands at 63%, with the target being missed for nine years.

There are plans to increase the number of community diagnostic centres from 106 to around 190.

Richard Murray, chief executive of the King’s Fund think tank, spoke to The Times saying that when choice was introduced around 20 years ago, patients were more enthusiastic that GPs.

He said: “The first response you get is, ‘we just want to go to our local hospital, so can’t you just make the waiting list low?’”

Mr Murray said that use of the NHS app would “remove some of the bureaucracy” but said lots of patients would still want to contact their GP.

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