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Dying to go Private – Deliberate Delays Cut NHS Waiting Lists

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NHS trusts are delaying non-urgent operations – for the simple reason that this cuts waiting lists because patients either die whilst waiting or choose to pay for the operation to be done privately.

This callous attempt to save money sees NHS managers deliberately causing delays of up to four months in the hope that they’ll ‘remove themselves from the waiting list’ in one way or the other.

In an official report by the independent watchdog, Co-operation and Competition Panel (CCP), who advises the NHS, it has been shown that NHS trust managers are imposing minimum waiting times for operations such as hip replacements and cataract removal.  There is also damning evidence that certain trusts are ‘excessively constraining’ patients’ rights to choose the location where these operations are carried out.

Since 2006 it has been possible for NHS patients who necessitate routine care are able to choose between at least four different hospitals – including units that are privately run.  But it appears that some trusts are blocking these choices and favouring hospitals that enable them to balance the books to their advantage.

Evidence has shown that these practices are ‘endemic’ in some areas of the country, and pose a ‘serious risk’ to the current attempts by government to open up the NHS field to private sector competition.

Chairman of the CCP, Lord Carter of Coles said;

“Commissioners have a difficult job in the current financial climate, but patients’ rights are often being restricted without a valid and visible reason.”

Chief executive of the Patient’s Association, Katherine Murphy, said;

“It’s outrageous that some primary care trusts are imposing minimum waiting times.  The suggestion that it could save money because patients will remove themselves from the list by going private or dying is a callous and cynical manipulation of people’s lives and should not be tolerated.”

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