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Personal injury claimants have the right to choose private care not least to alleviate NHS waiting lists

With the NHS facing a reported 'hidden' waiting list post-covid of some 15 million patients referred on by their GPs and needing follow up appointments, it is more important than ever that injured claimants can access private treatment.

Although the official waiting list is estimated to be just under 4 million patients waiting for their first NHS hospital appointment following referral by their GP, the 15 million figure is calculated by the Times via a freedom of information request. Since NHS patient numbers are not held centrally, the actual figure of people waiting is clearly much higher than reported NHS data.

Time and again we come up against insurers initially refusing to pay the costs of private treatment, stating that the claimant should use the NHS, generally meaning they are forced to wait longer for that treatment and are utilising an already strained NHS system.

What is wholly wrong here is the insurer's false assertion that the claimant must use the NHS. The provisions of The Law Reform (Personal Injuries) Act 1948 explicitly state that a claimant is under no duty to use the NHS and that there should be no regard that expenses could be avoided had the claimant received treatment under the NHS. In other words, that they have the choice to opt for private medical care and this will be considered a reasonable expense.

During these unprecedented times, claimants should clearly be given the choice of choosing private medical care both to access quicker treatment and to alleviate the current pressure of waiting lists on the NHS.

We have been working incredibly hard on cases during lockdown to free up NHS beds quickly wherever possible and to ensure claimants where appropriate have access to either private inpatient treatment or private support and follow up in the community and others are hopefully following suit.

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