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Patients declining two dates could be struck from waiting lists

Patients face being removed from the NHS waiting list if they decline two dates offered to them for their treatment, new internal guidance seen by HSJ reveals.

The “interim operational guidance” from NHS England says if patients decline two proposed dates for treatment, they should be moved on to “active monitoring” and removed from the NHS’s main elective waiting list.

Waiting list consultant Rob Findlay said the guidance was an “abuse of national waiting times statistics”, and that “the menacing of patients [proposed in the strategies outlined in the guidance] is appalling”.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England told HSJ  it had not been consulted on the guidance, as it would have expected. The college said the guidance could be positive if used “sensibly” but it warned that “used poorly, it could see patients lost in the system, or banished to waiting list purgatory”.

NHSE elective recovery adviser Sir Jim Mackey told HSJ the guidance was to support trusts to manage “a small number of patients who… continue to decline treatment date offers [and] to fill appointment slots so patients get seen as soon as possible”.

He said there were long-waiting patients who have “refused offers of treatment alternative, sometimes multiple offers. This is absolutely their choice, but it does make access for other patients more difficult when slots are held for them”.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 6 October 2022


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