Going private is helping patients to jump queue
PATIENTS in Wales could be jumping the queue for NHS treatment by paying to see hospital consultants privately, a committee of assembly members has said.
The public accounts committee has called for an investigation by the public spending watchdog — the auditor general — after members suggested patients who see specialist consultants might be able to get on a waiting list for treatment sooner.
Cathy O'Sullivan, acting director of the Board of Community Health Councils in Wales, told the BBC they would be "very concerned" if queue jumping was taking place.
"Certainly people shouldn't be able to access a private consultation to jump a list or circumnavigate or expedite on any treatments within the NHS," she said.
"However, if they're in pain, if they want to seek private treatment rather than wait for the normal referrals or they're very concerned, then that should be their right to go down which ever route they choose or can afford."
The accounts committee also added that consultants' long working hours were unsustainable.
Chairman of the accounts committee, Darren Millar, added: "The dedication of individual consultants to addressing patients' needs is commendable," he said.
"But we don't believe the status quo of so many consistently working such long hours is sustainable."
New contracts were introduced for consultants 10 years ago to try and combat them working excessive hours.