Medical Mistake Claims - Simpson Millar LLP

Waiting for Elective Surgery? You're Not the Only One

Author: Neil Fearn  Bullet  Dated: 31/01/2014

The National Audit Office (NAO) has found that patients waiting for elective, non-emergency surgery for operations concerning the knees or hips (orthopaedic surgery), have been subjected to inconsistent and unreliable waiting times.

What Should Happen With Non-Emergency Operations?

The NAO are unable to say whether the inconsistencies were made deliberately or not, but they were sure of the adverse and harmful effects it may have on NHS patients. They had been put in a position where they could not make an informed decision about where to have their treatment.

These discoveries have called into question whether the NHS is actually meeting its waiting time targets as promised by the government.

There should be a maximum of an 18-week turn around for referrals from a consultant . Currently, the NHS is seen to be meeting this target, but only just due to building pressures. Waiting times are recorded by hospitals themselves.

If you're sent back to your GP after failing to make an appointment the 'clock' restarts , meaning you could face another 18-week wait. Also, the clock can be paused if for personal or social reasons you're unable to make an appointment. The NAO have said that this margin of flexibility allowed has been used inconsistently and wrongly applied.

What Should I Do If I've Waited Years and not Months?

Of the 650 cases reviewed, 281 were found to have the correct waiting times recorded with proper supporting documentation. 202 cases lacked the correct evidence and 167 cases contained at least 1 error due to the under or over-recording of a waiting time.

Overall, there was an under-recording of 3 weeks per patient .

Generally, we would advise that you complain to the hospital if it has been over 18 weeks and you have not received your operation. Understandably, emergency surgery must take priority over elective or non-emergency surgeries. However, if you are waiting years rather than months to receive surgery and you have suffered further problems as a result of this you may want to consider approaching a solicitor.

Depending on the problem, a significant delay in any surgery may result in a more extensive procedure.

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