A new feature is set to be added to the NHS app in an effort to cut waiting times, according to reports.

Currently, the NHS waiting list for routine treatment stands at more than seven million and is predicted to keep rising until next spring.

As a result, patients will be able to use the NHS app for private hospital bookings to speed up care and increase the NHS’ capacity.

A report in The Times said that only 28 NHS hospitals currently allow patients to manage appointments via the app.

However, this is expected to be expanded, which is when the private hospital option will be offered for the first time.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The current waiting list for routine treatment stands at seven million peopleThe current waiting list for routine treatment stands at seven million people (Image: PA)

What has the Government said about the new NHS app option?

A Whitehall source cited by The Times said: "There is definitely scope for that.

"The NHS app is increasingly well-used, there is already some functionality where patients can directly book, and we are looking to modernise those booking capabilities and update the options in the app."

A statement from the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Cutting waiting lists is one of the Government’s top five priorities with the NHS app playing a vital role in giving patients greater control over their own care and supporting elective care recovery.

“We have already started to implement the Elective Recovery Taskforce’s work and a full plan will be published soon, outlining how we can go even further to unlock the independent sector to get patients treated more quickly and reduce waiting lists.”

The independent sector use of the NHS is up to 143% of pre-pandemic levels, but the department says they have cut 18-month waits by 91% and two-year waits have been “virtually eliminated”.