It is well documented that there is wide-scale disparity in the treatments and waiting times available on the NHS across the UK. There is almost an unofficial ‘postcode lottery’ with the provision of NHS services whereby some patients are left waiting longer for operations, are not receiving regular check-ups, and are also not being referred to specialists.
An example of this would be that in some CCG areas patients are offered a cervical smear test every 3 years, yet in other CCG areas it is every 5 years despite the fact that the NICE guidelines recommend them to be carried out every 3 years for certain age groups.
Of course with some patients having to wait longer for such screenings it can unfortunately affect their chances of a successful recovery or in more serious cases – survival. The sooner health problems are spotted and the faster they are acted upon the more likely it is that patients are going to recover and need less extensive future treatment. It is such a shame that patients’ lives have been put at risk simply due to the area in which they live and the services offered by that particular Trust.
It is pleasing to finally hear that the Government are finally addressing the issue of regional disparity in the nation’s healthcare since patients deserve equal access to healthcare regardless of where they live.
Litigation Executive at Express Solicitors, Anna Pearson, comments: “The Government needs to do something to address regional disparity – patients deserve equal access to healthcare regardless of where they live. It is unfair, and greatly prejudices a patient’s access to healthcare, to have in place a regional system where one local area can have better access than another. For example, we have represented patients before who have been subject to a 5 year recall for cervical smears simply because their local area has decided that is what can be afforded under their budget. That is, despite the fact the NICE guidelines recommend 3 year recalls for certain age groups, and other areas, with different funding arrangements, get 3 years. Unfortunately, that could have a very big effect on your eventual outcome, especially if you are unlucky enough to be diagnosed with cervical cancer two years later than it could have been. This ‘postcode lottery’ occurs across all areas of healthcare services from GP referrals and recalls to surgery waiting lists. It is unfair and needs addressing urgently.”
If you have been affected by the ‘postcode lottery’ and as a result have suffered from delay in diagnosis you may be entitled to financial compensation. Please get in touch with Express Solicitors for free legal advice or help with making a claim for compensation on: 0800 158 5274.