Patients can demand a private hospital if they wait 18 weeks for surgery
People will be able to demand they are treated privately if they have to wait more than 18 weeks for NHS care, the Health Secretary has announced.Andrew Lansley has made the offer of private treatment which could benefit tens of thousands of people who currently have to wait more than 18 weeks for non-urgent operations.
Patients diagnosed with cancer will also have the legal right to demand a consultation with an “alternative provider” if they have to wait more than a fortnight for NHS care.
Last night, the Health Secretary said: “In the last year the NHS has reduced the number of people waiting longer than 18 weeks for treatment to a record low, which is a great achievement. However, we are not complacent and have already challenged the NHS to keep on improving.
“We want those waiting times to come down even further so we are asking the NHS to identify how best to offer patients who run the risk of waiting a long time an alternative hospital to get their treatment from, which could be an NHS hospital or a private provider.” The new treatment choice is part of plans to be announced today for an NHS mandate which will set out the standards of care that patients can expect following sweeping reforms.
In future, the standards of the NHS will be judged against 60 different “outcomes”, which include the number of people dying after being diagnosed with different cancers; improving care for those with long-term conditions such as dementia; and recovery times after medical emergencies.
In the past, hospitals have been judged on waiting lists and other upfront markers rather than the success or failure of treatment.
The NHS will publish an annual report, with the first appraisal released today, to monitor standards and measure improvements. And a new NHS board will have to write to the Health Secretary to explain if key indicators do not improve.
In today’s NHS report, the Government will also laud health staff for reducing waiting times, cutting mixed-sex wards and reducing infection rates in hospitals.
However, the pledge to increase health standards represents a major political gamble for Mr Lansley.
Earlier this year, he forced through major reform of the NHS in the face of intense opposition from the medical profession. If he fails to meet the new targets, the “failure” of the NHS reforms are expected to form the centrepiece of Labour’s next election campaign.
Tags: Andrew Lansley, Conservatives, Doctors, Health Professionals, nhs cash shortages, postcode lottery, private health, waiting times