NHS waiting times

How long are NHS waiting times?

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One of the main reasons to take out private healthcare insurance is to avoid lengthy NHS queues. But how long are NHS waiting times really?

Hospital staff moving beds

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How long are NHS waiting times?

The maximum NHS waiting time for suspected cancer is two weeks. For non-urgent treatment, you could wait up to 18 weeks. But this agreement doesn’t cover all services available on the NHS - maternity services and non-consultant-led mental health services, for example, aren’t included.

The countdown starts when the hospital or service receives your referral letter, or when you book your first appointment through the NHS e-Referral service.

Missed targets

Hospitals are missing targets for cancer, accident and emergency and planned operations across the board, according to the BBC. It reported in October that England, Wales and Northern Ireland have missed all their targets in the last 18 months – and Scotland has only hit its A&E target three times.

In fact, the number of patients waiting six months for operations has jumped 40% in a single year, according to statistics from the Royal College of Surgeons.

Mental health is suffering, too

Mental health services in the UK are also under increased strain, with some patients sent out of their local area for treatment. The British Medical Association reports a 40% increase in mental health patients sent elsewhere for treatment in 2016/17 when compared with 2014/15.

Even the head of the NHS has predicted that waiting times will get worse. Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS, said queues could hit a record high of 5 million patients and one in 10 people could be stuck on a waiting list by 2021. 

Eliminate NHS waiting times

One way that people can dodge NHS waiting times is by taking out private health insurance before they get sick. Policyholders are entitled to eligible treatment as soon as it's available, often receiving this much faster than they would with the NHS.

What's more, with private healthcare you have a much wider choice of appointment times, specialists and hospitals to suit both your needs and schedule. And as well as helping you to get quicker access to the right treatment, private health insurance also eases the strain on the NHS.   

Find out why self-pay healthcare might not make sense for you.

This guide was produced by InsureMe-on-Line

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