The current unacceptably long waiting times for clinic appointments in many NHS hospitals can mean that, increasingly, some patients are waiting more than two years to see a consultant.
Many patients who visit their GP may have complex illnesses and conditions, as I do, which require them to receive input from several different specialists.
With GPs nowadays being forced more than ever to refer patients to just one clinic/specialist at a time, and even having referrals turned down if hospitals deem the patient does not meet the criteria for further investigation, patients are undoubtedly enduring prolonged suffering in some cases.
In my area, with waiting times of 52 weeks for orthopaedics, 28 weeks for dermatology and 20 weeks for gynaecology clinics, if a patient is to be sent to one department, then the GP awaits results from there, then refers them to another clinic/specialist, then the GP await results from that consultation, then refers the person to a third clinic, allowing for the often lengthy time it takes for consultants to write back to GPs. This process could well take years.
The referral system is pretty inadequate anyway, where patients require the involvement of multiple disciplines, but with these increasingly lengthy waiting times to be seen, these delays are becoming wholly unacceptable and this issue simply must be addressed.