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Free private care for patients who exceed waiting times target

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The legal right to free private care will be granted to patients who fail to receive the treatment they need from the NHS within 18 weeks, the Times has reported.

According to the newspaper, Cabinet members have agreed to rush through new legislation which officially outlines the idea of maximum waiting times.

It is hoped that before the next general election, patients suffering serious conditions such as cancer will be granted funding to pay for private care if they have not been able to see an NHS specialist within 14 days of a referral from their GP.

The Times says the new legislation will be unveiled in the Queen’s Speech next month, with the aim of continuing the reduction of NHS waiting lists experienced in recent years and ensuring the issue becomes part of the Conservative election campaign.

Ministers hope that the move, which could have primary care trusts monitoring patients and informing them of their rights for alternative provision, will prevent waiting list numbers rising again.

Trusts will be required to “take all reasonable steps” to make sure patients are treated immediately either by the NHS or the private sector, according to the paper.

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