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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 June, 2004, 12:08 GMT 13:08 UK
NHS reform 'to cut waiting times'
Surgery generic
Waiting times for treatment are being examined
Radical moves are being considered to reduce the number of people waiting to be treated on the NHS, it has emerged.

Measures being looked at include increasing the use of the private sector in delivering patient care.

The Scotland on Sunday newspaper claims there are plans for up to 20,000 extra operations a year by the NHS in Scotland to cut maximum waiting times.

A Scottish Executive spokesman said nothing would be decided until the spending review later in the year.

Options for improving treatment include diagnostic treatment centres - privately run community hospitals operating as part of the NHS.

'Under consideration'

It has also been suggested there could be a massive increase in the number of patients sent to the Golden Jubilee Hospital in Clydebank, which was bought from the private sector two years ago.

The executive spokesman said the reports were "speculation".

"All the proposals mentioned are being looked at by the Scottish Executive and are being considered," he added.

"Nothing has been decided yet and won't be until the executive's spending review in September."

Scottish Conservative health spokesman David Davidson said: "It's about time that (Health Minister) Malcolm Chisholm and the Scottish Executive paid attention to some of the movements that are being made in healthcare in England, many of which we've recommended for a long time."

Last week, UK Health Secretary John Reid declared waiting times south of the border would be reduced to 18 weeks by 2008.

However, the executive added it was incorrect to view moves north of the border as a bid to keep up with those targets.

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