If you are referred for specialist non-urgent treatment, you currently should expect to be treated within a maximum waiting time of 18 weeks. Over the last year, the NHS has been reviewing this 18-week target. ARMA has been involved in the advisory group looking at this change.

The NHS England board meeting on 30 January announced plans to extend the testing period for proposed changes to the 18-week elective care measure into 2020/21.

This joint response was issued by National Voices, The Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance, Versus Arthritis, the MS Society, the Neurological Alliance and Healthwatch England.

“We welcome NHS England’s decision today to give more time to its review of waiting times for elective care. It has been encouraging to see how NHS England’s review aimed to focus on improving people’s experiences, but in our mind, there were always questions over the timelines for looking at such a complex issue.

“The 18-week target covers a wide range of conditions with clinical outcomes and experiences affected differently by the length of time people wait. Issues such as good shared decision making, better information and ongoing support during waits also affect the experiences of people needing treatment. This is why we need more time to assess the impact of any changes to the target on people waiting for treatment.

“NHS England’s update today, is therefore, a very welcome move and shows that they are taking the feedback from patients and their organisations seriously. We look forward to continuing our work with NHS England to ensure the review comes to the right decision by 2021.”

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