Scottish patients offered care in Harrogate

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HOSPITAL patients in Scotland have been offered treatment in Harrogate in a bid to cut waiting lists.

NHS Lothian offered surgery in Harrogate and Northumberland to some of its patients, though the offer was declined.

A spokesman for Harrogate District Hospital said there was no special arrangement with the health board north of the border and she was not aware of any reason why Harrogate in particular was offered.

“A patient may choose the hospital in which they receive treatment based on a wide range of factors: for example location, personal reasons, reputation, clinical performance,” she said.

“It might be someone who has a relative here; there are all these different reasons and we would treat a patient from anywhere. It’s not unusual to take patients from York, Leeds, Bradford - wherever.

“It’s not that we specifically offer treatment, it’s all about patient choice.

“There’s no reason I’m aware of that Harrogate in particular was offered to NHS Lothian patients.”

The offer came to light in national newspaper articles last week, when NHS Lothian was forced to defend itself against accusations it had “doctored” its waiting lists.

The Scotsman reported that when patients declined care in Harrogate or Northumberland, they were then not included on a list of patients waiting more than the target 18 weeks for treatment.

This allowed NHS Lothian to hit Government targets but meant patients left waiting longer for treatment went undetected.

NHS Lothian said the policy was “standard practice” in Scotland, with offers of surgery in England made “in a small number of cases”.

At the NHS annual review last Friday, deputy chief operating officer Sandra Mair said 2,300 patients had accepted surgery outside NHS Lothian in 2010-11.

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