§ Dr. Wright
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what redress and compensation are available to patients when health authorities and trusts fail to meet service commitments made in local and national patients charters.
§ Dr. Mawhinney
Health authorities and hospitals are responsible on a day-to-day basis for delivering patients charter rights and standards and are expected to ensure that service commitments are fully met.
In two specific instances the patients charter offers redress. Under the citizens charter, patients are guaranteed treatment within a maximum of two years—18 months for hip and knee replacement and cataract operations—from the date when their consultant places them on a waiting list. Where a hospital cannot give treatment within the guaranteed maximum waiting time, then health authorities should make alternative arrangements with another provider.
Also operations should not be cancelled on the day a patient is due to arrive in hospital. If this happens twice, then treatment should be arranged within one month of the date of the second cancellation.