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Personal Injury Solicitor on the importance of reducing NHS waiting times

NHS waiting times at a 5-year high, hospitals bursting at the seams, movements to integrate and localise care, oh, and reduce spending on the NHS by £20bn by 2015. Easy. (Puh!) says Personal Injury Solicitor Rebecca Lawrence.

There’s a national target of patients being treated within 18 weeks of diagnosis but NHS England recently announced a waiting list of almost 3 million, and there are no signs of that alleviating any time soon. It seems every other day there’s a news article about A&E services failing to keep up with demand and just this morning we were told by BBC Breakfast News that 1 in 5 A&E visits could have been dealt with in the community rather than a trip to the nearest A&E department of a hospital. Patients aren’t being discharged early enough either apparently, though I’m not sure who decides when is the right time to be discharged?

The Health and Social Care Act 2012 was enacted with the intention of putting clinicians at the heart of commissioning, encouraging competition, improving the quality of the service and forcing supplier prices down. We’re yet to see the full effect but the mood from GP’s doesn’t appear to be positive so far.

The Care Bill has just entered the Third Reading stage at the House of Lords, following a late amendment after the embarrassment of the failed attempt to close Lewisham Hospital to give the trust special administrator extra powers. The candidate (/victim) who lands this role will be guided by the Secretary of State and it can be envisaged, in order to achieve the drastic cost saving targets, hospital closures will follow. So, essentially the burden is just being shifted back into the community.

What many patients might not realise is that if their injury/condition for which they need medical assistance is as a result of an accident which might be a negligent act, the hospital can claim costs back from the alleged offending party through the claims process, even if ultimately that claim does not succeed. Also, and perhaps more importantly, insurance funds can be accessed for Rehabilitation and treatment from the private sector. The benefits of doing this are twofold; that ever-expanding waiting list for the NHS may start to decrease; and treatment can be completed quicker, thus improving a patient’s recovery and feelings of well-being. In my opinion it’s just a no-brainer!

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