OAP anger over NHS waiting lists

A PENSIONERS group has hit out at the length of NHS waiting lists, claiming some elderly people have been paying for private operations rather than wait in pain.

A PENSIONERS group has hit out at the length of NHS waiting lists, claiming some elderly people have been paying for private operations rather than wait in pain.

Gordon Beare, of Tendring Pensioners' Action Group said the local primary care trust had experienced a shortfall of about £60 million during the past four years.

The 76-year-old claimed the organisation was unable to cope with the needs of the area's population, which is one of the oldest in the country.

But Tendring PCT said a massive increase in investment, announced earlier this year, would tackle under-funding.


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Mr Beare said: "We know of patients who have paid for private operations because they cannot stand the long wait as their original condition was slowly getting worse.

"They were getting desperate and if they had a bit of saving, then they have been forced to spend it on going private.

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"There is also deliberate policy of placing elderly people to the back of the queue, hoping they will die.

"It is a cynical view, but I am starting to believe it is true."

He claimed the picture painted by the Government about waiting lists was "vastly different" to the reality faced by patients.

Earlier this year, Paul Unsworth, the chief executive of Tendring PCT announced an extra £25 million investment for 2006/7.

He said: "It will enable us to commission more operations and reduce hospital waiting lists.

"We must now carefully plan how we are going to use this money to ensure we achieve the maximum amount of health improvements for our population. "It must be remembered, however, that we do not get this extra money until 2006 and the year ahead is very tight financially. But, crucially, there is light at the end of the tunnel."

A spokesman for Essex Rivers Healthcare NHS Trust, which provides the operations which Tendring PCT pays for, said: "We are confused by the comments made by Tendring Pensioners Action Group.

"Waiting times, both for inpatients and outpatients, have been falling progressively for many years at Essex Rivers Healthcare, in common with the rest of the NHS.

"Secondly, services are provided on the basis of clinical need rather than age - we do not discriminate on the basis of age.

"If people wish to pay to go private, that is their decision. However, if they are on a waiting list and their condition deteriorates, such as if they become more of a clinical priority, they will be seen sooner."

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