Skip six-month NHS waiting lists and just drive to another hospital for shorter queues, report reveals
- Average distance between hospitals with longest and shortest waits is 13 miles
- Patients have a right to choose a hospital and the NHS will pay accommodation
- NHS waiting lists are at 6.8million and 250,000 had private treatment last year
- Patients Assoc. says changing hospital could lead to a cut of 14 weeks of waiting
Patients could cut their wait for an NHS operation by up to six months by switching to a nearby hospital with shorter queues, a report reveals.
The average distance between hospitals with the longest and shortest waits is just 13 miles.
Many people do not know they have a right to choose a hospital so often just take the nearest, but the NHS will pay for travel and accommodation and patients can even choose a private provider.
In their report entitled Time to Choose, the Patients Association and Independent Healthcare Providers Network said: ‘In every region across England, patients could join considerably shorter waiting lists by travelling to a different local provider.’
They want the NHS to make it easier for people to see data on waits at each hospital and to be told of their rights.
Patients could cut their wait for an NHS operation by up to six months by switching to a nearby hospital with shorter queues, a report reveals
Many people do not know they have a right to choose a hospital so often just take the nearest, but the NHS will pay for travel and accommodation and patients can even choose a private provider
NHS waiting lists stand at a record 6.8million. Last year 250,000 beat the queues by paying for private treatment, according figures from to the Private Healthcare Information Network.
In the last three months of 2021, 69,000 patients ‘self-funded’ their care, 39 per cent more than in the same period before Covid.
Common operations, such as hip and knee replacements, can cost £15,000 and people either use up savings or get into debt to ease their pain. But the report shows it may be possible avoid long NHS waits without paying.
Experts looked at how long the average patient has been on a waiting list at each hospital for the six most common categories.
They are trauma and orthopaedics, ophthalmology, ear, nose and throat, gynaecology, general surgery and urology.
Hospitals were ranked by length of wait. On average, a patient would need to travel just 13.2 miles to move from a hospital in the longest wait group to the shortest wait group.
Doing so could cut 14 weeks of waiting – moving from hospitals with an average of 22 weeks to an average of eight weeks. The difference between the best and worst hospitals is greatest in south-west England, where the gap can be as long as six months.
Hospitals were ranked by length of wait. On average, a patient would need to travel just 13.2 miles to move from a hospital in the longest wait group to the shortest wait group
David Hare, chief executive of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network, said: ‘With NHS waiting lists at record highs, there is an urgent need for a real push from both the Government and the NHS to put power in the hands of patients, with a clear commitment to boost the public’s understanding of the choices available to them to receive the quickest possible NHS treatment.’
An NHS England spokesman said patients could get help and check waiting times on the My Planned Care website and added: ‘Patient choice is a key focus of our elective recovery plan.’
Miriam Deakin, of NHS Providers, which represents trusts, said that ‘the NHS is pulling out all the stops to reduce waiting times, including letting patients know they have a choice over where they can receive care, such as accessing NHS services in the independent sector for some procedures’.
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