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Patients to get private care if wait is too long

By Nigel Praities

Patients could receive private treatment if the NHS cannot deliver care within waiting time targets as part of a package of new patient ‘rights'.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced patients would have a number of ‘enforceable entitlements' as part of a Government relaunch of its public sector agenda earlier this week, in a drive to ‘give patients a more personal service'.

These include giving patients money to pay for private treatment if NHS trusts cannot meet the 18-week referral-to-treatment target. PCTs will be required to arrange treatment from alternative providers – including private providers – if local NHS trusts cannot offer cancer patients a specialist appointment within two weeks.

Future entitlements to NHS treatment will include evening and weekend access to GPs and individual budgets for patients with long-term medical conditions.

The report, Building Britain's Future, also gave patients the right to demand a free ‘health check' once they reach age 40.

Speaking on a visit to the Barkantine Centre polyclinic in Tower Hamlets, east London, Mr Brown said: ‘We have national targets, we now want to move to personal entitlements. That puts pressure on delivery, but we believe that can be done with the extra resources we're putting in this year and next year.'

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