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How long should I wait?

The idea of waiting times or waiting lists may make anyone shudder especially when it comes to something as important as your health. Waiting times are often a sore subject for the NHS with the media often reporting on the latest statistics, especially noticeable during an election period. Recently the Guardian* reported that the NHS hospital waiting times in 2015 were at their worse in 7 years, with 40,000 patients in February not starting their consultant-led treatment within the 18 week target, and more than 13,000 patients waiting over 26 weeks to receive treatment.

Some might say the figures literally speak for themselves but whatever the reason you require an appointment it is important to consider how long you may have to wait in order to see a specialist or receive treatment within the NHS.

Waiting times for NHS hospitals can vary depending on the treatment or the reason for requiring an appointment.

Waiting Times Graph

2 weeks for ‘emergency treatment’

According to NHS Choices** either of the following that is considered an emergency should be consulted by a specialist within 2 weeks of being referred by your GP:

- Chest pains

- Suspected heart disease

18 weeks for ‘non-emergency treatment’

NHS Choices**state that any non-emergency treatments should start within a maximum of 18 weeks from the point that you were referred by your GP. This waiting period can be increased if you make the choice to wait longer than the 18 weeks, or if it is clinically appropriate to do so.    

2 weeks for suspected cancer

Being referred by your GP for suspected cancer can be a scary time for anyone which is why the NHS tries to ensure that you are seen as quickly as possible. NHS Choices** state that the target waiting time to be seen by a specialist for suspected cancer is within two weeks of your referral.

Unfortunately these waiting times are just targets and with the ever-growing strain on the system they can sometimes be missed. According to the Guardian*** increased pressure from busy A&E departments led to the NHS cancelling around 2,386 planned operations in January 2015. A daunting thought especially when it could concern a serious health issue that requires urgent treatment such as cancer. The Independent**** reported that at least 85% of cancer patients should begin their treatment within two months of their referral, unfortunately in 2014 only 83.8% of patients were treated within this time, leaving more than 5,000 people waiting more than 62 days to start their urgent treatment.    

The thought of being on a waiting list can seem daunting to anyone, which may lead you to consider utilising quicker options such as Private Medical Insurance.

Our new product Health For You is a tailored policy that is designed by you to suit your needs, as part of this we also offer several options to suit your budget. For instance adding the Six Week Safety Net as a part of your cover can not only lower your premium but still can help you to avoid long NHS waiting times. This option means if in-patient or day-patient treatment or any surgery is available on the NHS within six weeks from the date it should take place then you’ll use the NHS. However, if the wait for treatment is longer than six weeks then you can contact us to arrange for private treatment.  

If you would like to find out more information on Health For You and various levels of healthcare cover provided please visit www.health-on-line.co.uk or call 01202 544255. 

Sources:

*http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/apr/09/nhs-hospital-waiting-time-figures

**http://www.nhs.uk/choiceintheNHS/Rightsandpledges/Waitingtimes/Pages/Guide%20to%20waiting%20times.aspx

***http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jan/16/nhs-hospital-waiting-times

**** http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/nhs-missed-cancer-waiting-times-targets-throughout-2014-10054945.html

http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/health-services-guide/referrals.htm

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