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Scottish treatment target will create perverse incentives, GP leaders warn

By Alisdair Stirling

Scottish patients will have the right to expect treatment within 12 weeks under controversial new legislation before the Scottish Parliament.

The Patient Rights (Scotland) Bill - introduced in March last year and currently at the second stage of its progress through Parliament - would introduce a 12-week treatment time guarantee for patients along with a set of other rights which it says should underpin the delivery of healthcare.

The introduction of the Bill comes after the Department of Health scrapped the 18-week referral-to-treatment target in England last June. In practice the target is no longer monitored by managers but remains a right for all patients under the NHS Constitution.

The BMA this week called on politicians to reject the Bill saying that it does not include any rights to redress, meaning nothing in the legislation will be enforceable and it is therefore 'meaningless'.

Dr Dean Marshall chair of Scottish GPC said: 'Our issue with this has been that they want to enshrine it in law. We´re all for improving waiting times but I remain to be convinced this is the right way to go about it.

'The Scottish Government has been sensible in not doing things like this in the past and although it sounds quite appealing to the person in the street, my concern is that it will cause a whole lot of other problems and introduce perverse incentives of reaching targets for hospitals.'

The Bill also provides for the creation of a national Patient Advice and Support Service and a newly created Patient Rights Officer.

Dr Dean Marshall: Legislation is not the right way to go about improving patient care

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