NHS waiting list rule that allows patients to avoid queues

A growing number of people in the UK have turned to private healthcare due to record waiting times for NHS services, according to a new report.

Report author Liz Heath said: “There appears to be a direct correlation between well-publicized and lengthened NHS waiting lists and waiting times for elective procedures and diagnoses and inquiries on self-payment. Since these waiting lists are not falling, we would expect demand to be sustained as people seek to access treatment.”

As it stands, the NHS is currently testing new ways to reduce waiting times, including a monitoring device to speed up the diagnosis of irregular heart rhythms, which has reduced waiting at Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital from eight weeks to a few days. , according to the Liverpool Echo. Meanwhile, a ‘life-saving’ phone app has also been launched to detect cancer, removing unnecessary referrals to dermatology. But one program could allow you to skip NHS waiting lists altogether.

The NHS’ “right to choose” is protected and guaranteed by its constitution, which “gives most people living in England the right to choose where to receive treatment”. With a few caveats like catchment area, capacity and cost, patients have the legal right to choose their practice, decide on their NHS care and choose the organization providing the care when they are referred by their GP to a first appointment with a consultant or specialist.

You can even choose to be treated by a clinical team led by a consultant or appointed healthcare professional, and be referred to many private hospitals, as long as they provide services to the NHS and it doesn’t cost more expensive to the NHS than a referral. at a standard NHS hospital. The NHS e-Referral Service, an electronic referral service, allows people living in England to choose from clinics and hospitals, including some private hospitals, across England.

Private organizations accessible under the NHS right to choose are called ‘qualified providers’. These include Psychiatry UK, an online psychiatry service with “contracts to provide adult ADHD diagnosis and treatment services with a number of clinical commissioning groups in England”.

Patients could wait years for a first appointment with the NHS, according to the charity ADHD Action, but they could be seen within weeks and start taking medication within months by going private. However, demand is currently so high that all appointments for Psychiatry UK’s adult ADHD services are fully booked until October 2022, according to its website.

The right to choose applies to both mental health and physical conditions, and covers services ranging from general medicine to specialized tests and treatments. There are certain circumstances in which you do not have the right to choose, including whether you are a prisoner or in the armed forces, whether you use emergency services or need emergency treatment or emergencies such as cancer services where you must be seen within a maximum of two weeks.

But you can ask to be referred to another hospital if you have to wait longer to see a specialist for a suspected cancer, or if you have to wait more than 18 weeks before starting treatment for a physical or mental health problem, if your treatment is not urgent.

The NHS website said: “You should always be given a choice at the time of referral and the opportunity to discuss options with the person referring you. If you believe you have not been offered a choice, you should speak to the person who is referring you in the first place.”

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