NHS patients suffering from long waiting list times will have the option of using private care that will be funded for them, under new government plans.
The right to quick NHS treatment, the right to die at home and the right to NHS dentistry will all be given to patients in the new proposals, to be set out by Prime Minister Gordon Brown (pictured) and Health Secretary Andy Burnham.
There will be a deadline of 18 weeks after referral for treatment, and suspected cancer victims would have to be seen by a specialist in two weeks.
If the NHS cannot treat patients quickly enough then staff will have to offer alternatives, including treatment at private hospitals.
The rights, which would come into force in April next year, will be set down in the NHS Constitution.
The government believes they will empower patients and cut down on cases where patients in some parts of the country are treated more quickly than others.
The plans are also a direct challenge to the Tories, who have promised to phase out NHS targets, including those for waiting times.
The Conservatives want to focus on measuring outcomes for patients.
Under the plans, everyone between 40 and 74 will have a legal right to a five-yearly NHS Health Check from 2012 to assess their risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.
Copyright © Press Association 2009
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