The NHS Constitution sets out the following right for patients:
'You have the right to access services within maximum waiting times, or for the NHS to take all reasonable steps to offer you a range of alternative providers if this is not possible.'
This means patients have the right to start consultant-led treatment within 18 weeks from referral, and be seen by a specialist within 2 weeks of GP referral for suspected cancer or, where this is not possible, for the NHS to take all reasonable steps to offer the patient a quicker appointment at a range of alternative providers if the patient makes such a request.
New, legally binding Directions from the Secretary of State to primary care trusts (PCTs) and strategic health authorities (SHAs) create this right. They were published on 8 March and came into force on 1 April 2010.
Waiting times for consultant-led elective treatment and urgent cancer referrals are already covered by established operational standards.
The NHS in England is meeting these standards nationally and, in many cases, waits are significantly shorter.
If you concerned that you have been waiting longer than you should have for your treatment at St George's Healthcare NHS Trust then please contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 020 8725 2453 or via email PALS@stgeorges.nhs.uk. The PALS team will then be able to direct your concerns to the relevant member of staff.
Further details are available on the Department of Health website and from the document below: