The NHS is trialling new ways to cut waiting times using a monitoring device to have diagnosis of irregular heart rhythms
NHS patients can skip waiting using a little known rule instead of turning lists to private healthcare.
There are record waiting times in the UK for NHS services, a new report claims, and more people are choosing to use private healthcare as a result.
Health experts say there is a direct link between much publicized waiting times and demand for treatments.
Liz Heath, author of the report said: “There does appear to be a direct correlation between the well-publicised and lengthening NHS waiting lists and waiting times for elective procedures and diagnostics and inquiries around self-pay.
“Since those waiting lists are not falling, we would expect demand to be sustained as people seek to access treatment.”
But the Liverpool Echo says there are ways to get round lengthy waiting lists.
The NHS is trialling new ways to cut waiting times using a monitoring device to have a diagnosis of irregular heart rhythms, which reduces the wait at Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital from as high as eight weeks to a matter of days.
Cheshire and Merseyside Integrated Care System launched a “life-saving” phone app for detecting cancer, cutting unnecessary dermatology referrals.
But one scheme could let you skip NHS waiting lists entirely.
The ‘Right to Choose’ is guaranteed by the NHS Constitution, which “gives most people living in England the right to choose where to receive treatment”.
With some caveats like catchment area, capacity and cost, patients have a legal right to choose their GP surgery, decide on their NHS care and pick the organization providing care when their GP refers them 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 named healthcare professional and to be referred to many private hospitals
But that is only if they provide services to the NHS and it doesn’t cost the health service more than a referral to a standard NHS hospital.
The NHS e-Referral Service, an electronic booking 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 known as “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 an initial NHS appointment, according to the charity ADHD Action, but they could be seen within weeks and start medication within months by going private.
But demand is currently so high that all appointments for Psychiatry UK’s adult ADHD services are full until October 2022.
The Right to Choose applies to both mental health and physical conditions – and it covers services from general practice to specialist tests and treatments.
There are certain circumstances in which you don’t have a Right to Choose, including if you are a prisoner or in the armed forces, if you are using emergency services, or are in need of emergency or urgent treatment like cancer services where you must be seen within two weeks.
But you can ask to be referred to a different hospital if you have to wait more than this before seeing a specialist for suspected cancer.
Otherwise, patients must wait more than 18 weeks before starting treatment for a physical or mental health condition, if their treatment is not urgent.
The NHS website said: “You should always be offered a choice at the point of referral and an opportunity to discuss the options with the person referring you.
“If you feel you have not been offered a choice, you should speak to the person who is referring you in the first instance.”