Scots avoid operation waits

Scottish patients spent £25 million on private operations last year, according to Scotland on Sunday.

Over 8,500 patients without insurance spent an average of nearly £3,000 on surgical procedures, the newspaper reports, choosing to fund operations themselves rather than wait for NHS treatment.

In addition, 22,898 patients' surgical procedures were paid for through their medical insurance, while a further 5,306 patients had their operations paid for by the NHS under recently-introduced waiting times initiatives.

In total, £105 million was spent on private hospital treatment in Scotland in 2005, representing a 25 per cent increase since 2003.

"The self-funding market has grown to account for 23 per cent of all private acute hospital treatment in Scotland," revealed Sally Taber, secretary of the Scottish Independent Hospitals Association.

"Patients seem to be looking for alternatives to the NHS and it is much easier for people to access private healthcare now," she told Scotland on Sunday.

Operations sought from private hospitals ranged from knee surgery and hip replacements to cataract surgery, with NHS waiting times deemed to be unacceptable by many people.

Patients in Scotland may have to wait for up to six months before seeing a consultant, and could then have to endure an additional six month wait before receiving treatment.

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