David Hare: Worrying NHS figures demonstrate need for patients to exercise their “right to choose”

David Hare

Performance figures released by NHS England today (13 July) show a worrying growth in waiting times for planned surgery, with the number of people waiting more than a year increasing by almost two thirds (65%) in the last 12 months. Responding to the figures, the NHS Partners Network is today encouraging patients to exercise their right to choose where they receive NHS treatment to help ensure they can access care as quickly as possible.

Less than 50 per cent of patients are aware of their legal right to choose from which provider they receive NHS care and only 40 per cent recall being offered a choice of hospital by their GP, according to NHS England figures.

Patients have the legal right to choose whether they receive NHS treatment in an NHS hospital or in the independent sector, where hospitals are paid the same amount for treating patients and regulated to the same safety standards as the NHS.

David Hare, Chief Executive, NHS Partners Network said:

“NHS hospitals are currently working flat out to cope with the pressures in A&E, however, it is important that the millions of people requiring vital elective treatment such as hip operations and cataracts are not forgotten. 

“The NHS is currently desperately short of elective capacity and it has never been more important for patients to exercise their right to choose their provider of care to ensure they can access the quickest available treatment.” 

Today’s NHS England figures showed:

- The number of people waiting for more than a year for elective surgery has increased by 65 per cent in the last year, from 1003 at the end of May 2016 to 1651 patients at the end of May 2017. 
- The Government’s target to ensure 92 per cent of patients wait no longer than 18 weeks from referral to treatment for elective procedures, such as hip and knee operations, has not been met since February 2016.

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