Government ministers are ordering a ‘crackdown’ on the hidden waiting in the NHS for patients without private medical insurance.
According to guidelines, patients should be seen within 18 weeks for non-emergency care on the NHS in England.
There are currently 2.6 million patients on waiting lists for non-emergency treatment in England, such as knee and hip replacements. Of these, nearly 250,000 have waited longer than 18 weeks. Of these 250,000, just over 100,000 have waited for longer than six months, and 20,000 for more than a year.
Ministers believe that there is not enough incentive for these patients to be treated, and are now demanding that NHS managers reduce the number of long waiters by 50,000 by April 2012.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: "Because of Labour's perverse approach, the NHS actually had an incentive not to treat patients."
"The new approach we will take from next year will clamp down on this practice. We will reduce the number of patients on hidden waiting lists, ensuring everyone gets access to the treatment they need."
Independent operators provide 1 in 4 hip operations in the UK. To get an elective operation in the private sector, patients need to either pay out of pocket, or claim on their private medical insurance policy.
Without medical insurance, paying for a hip replacement privately in the UK can cost as much as £10,000. An average health insurance premium for a 65 year old is around £70 a month, totalling only £840 a year, perhaps lower with a discount scheme.
People with private medical insurance will receive that hip replacement without extra cost, in a private hospital of their choice, with a consultant of their choice. Compare health insurance policies online now to avoid the NHS waiting lists for essential operations.
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