Report: Cost Cuts Threaten U.K. Patients

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LONDON, July 29 (UPI) — Managers in Britain’s public health service are deliberately delaying operations to save money, an official report says.

The report by the Cooperation and Competition Panel, an independent watchdog that advises the National Health Service, said operations are being delayed in hopes patients will opt for private treatment, The Daily Telegraph reported Thursday.

Some NHS executives insist the delays would lead to savings as “experience suggests that if patients wait longer, then some will remove themselves from the list.”

Interpreting that statement, the panel said: “We understand that patients will ‘remove themselves from the waiting list’ either by dying or by paying for their own treatment at private sector providers.”

But NHS managers, who are already limiting surgeries for cataracts, hips, knees and tonsils, say they must withhold or delay some treatments because the government has ordered the NHS to cut costs by $33 billion by 2015.

Patient advocates say that is unacceptable.

“It is outrageous that some primary care trusts are imposing minimum waiting times,” said Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association.

“The suggestion that it could save money because patients will remove themselves from the list by going private or dying is a callous and cynical manipulation of people’s lives and should not be tolerated.”

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