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Waiting list for planned operations to double by 2020


11 April 2017

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The number of people waiting longer than 18 weeks for planned operations could more than double by 2020, new NHS figures reveal.

An analysis of by NHS Partners Network (NHSPN), which represents independent providers of NHS care, found that waiting lists could increase from 360,000 to more than 800,000 by May 2020.

NHSPN advised patients to ‘exercise their legal right to choose a hospital provider… whether from the public or independent sectors’.

The number of people waiting longer than 18 weeks for planned operations could more than double by 2020, new NHS figures reveal.

An analysis of by NHS Partners Network (NHSPN), which represents independent providers of NHS care, found that waiting lists could increase from 360,000 to more than 800,000 by May 2020.

NHSPN advised patients to ‘exercise their legal right to choose a hospital provider… whether from the public or independent sectors’.

The advice comes as demand for planned operations such as hip and knee operations is rising. The number of people waiting for treatment is set to hit almost five million in 2020 – an increase of almost two million since May 2015.

The NHS Choice Framework states that patients have the legal right to choose whether they receive NHS treatment in an NHS hospital or in the independent sector.

But the latest figures from NHS England show that only 47% of people are aware of this right, resulting in hundreds of thousands of patients missing out on the chance to access care more quickly.

David Hare, chief executive of the NHS Partners Network said independent sector providers can treat patients six days earlier compared to NHS providers ‘and offer services to patients paid for at NHS prices, to NHS standards and free at the point-of-use’.

He added: ‘Unless action is taken, patients will face unacceptably long waits for treatment which not only leaves them in pain for longer than required, but could also lead to medical complications.

‘We therefore urge the Government to take urgent action to ensure patients and the public are given sufficient information and are empowered to exercise their right to choose so they can access care as quickly as possible.’

NHS England announced in its Five Year Forward View delivery plan that the NHS will be relaxing the requirement for hospitals to treat 92% of patients waiting for non-urgent operations within 18 weeks.

An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘Since the early 2000s, we've more than doubled the number of NHS hip and knee operations, and expect yet further growth in non-urgent surgery over the next few years. 

‘Most NHS operations are now done in well under 12 weeks, and patients will continue to be able to choose where their operation takes place.’

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