Brown to announce private cash for NHS cancer treatment delays

Posted on June 29, 2009. Filed under: Journals | Tags: |

Health Service Journal | 29 June 2009

The significant expansion of private sector involvement in health due to be unveiled by Gordon Brown this week will see cancer patients who face long waits in the NHS given cash to go private. 1203652_Gordon_Brown___smiling

In a radical shift of government policy, the prime minister will promise to strip away top-down targets in favour of “entitlements” for people using services.

Under the measures outlined in Mr Brown’s Building Britain’s Future document, any primary care trust unable to give cancer patients a specialist appointment within two weeks of GP referral will have to provide equivalent funding for a private consultation.

In reality, almost all NHS trusts in England meet the deadline, so the new measure is expected to affect only a few hundred patients.

However, what is regarded as a major change in policy is the principle of involving the private sector in acute treatment.

Currently only elective surgery such as hip replacements and cataract surgery is provided through private treatment.

The two-week target was introduced a decade ago, initially for suspected breast cancer cases, before being extended to all cancers. Although prospects have improved, research has indicated that average five-year survival rates across Europe are still higher than those in the UK.

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