Plans by the Scottish government would see patients given the legal right to a maximum waiting time of 12 weeks for an operation.
The proposals form part of a patients’ rights package launched for public consultation.
The consultation document also raises the possibility of a “no fault” compensation scheme for the health service – at present patients can only receive financial compensation if they can legally establish negligence. But the administration admits this idea needs further work and a firm decision is some way off.
The 12-week waiting time would apply from the point at which a patient is referred to hospital for surgery until the operation takes place.
Currently, the NHS has a target of a maximum 18 weeks for a patient seeing a consultant after being referred by a GP, and a further 18 weeks from seeing the consultant to being treated in hospital.
This total waiting period of 36 weeks is to go down to 18 weeks by 2011.
The 12 weeks proposed in the consultation on the Patients’ Rights Bill would fall within the 18 weeks, and would apply once it had been decided whether a patient needed to be treated as an inpatient or a day case.
The proposals also include the creation of independent patients rights officers for every health board area, and clearly defined systems of feedback.
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