NHS chiefs could be sacked for rationing care to save money, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is set to announce today.

The use of ‘minimum waiting times’ before patients receive treatment are to be banned from March 2012.

This follows a report from the Cooperation and Competition Panel (CCP), released in July, which showed that many PCTs make patients wait for a minimum of 15 weeks before treatment, in order to shorten waiting lists as patients either “die or pay for their own treatment” privately.

The Department of Health will have the ability to intervene when care is rationed in this way, which could involve removing senior management.

Lansley will say: “No right-thinking person could possibly understand how anyone could delay a patient’s treatment unnecessarily. If patients need treatment, they should get it when they want it and where they want it.”

However, some have argued that if minimum waiting times are removed, funding will have to be taken from another area in order to meet spending reduction targets.

Elizabeth Wade, head of commissioning policy for the PCT Network, said: “Where there is poor commissioning practice, we should not support it. Nobody wants decisions on patient care taken in an arbitrary fashion purely based on cost.

“But with the NHS expected to reduce its spending by £20bn over the next four years while demand for services continues to increase, effective planning is more important than ever.

“If the Government intends to take action to prevent commissioners being able to take decisions about local priorities, it must acknowledge the impact this will have on PCTs' ability to plan services.”

Author's Bio: 

Roy Rowlands writes for National Health Executive an essential guide to health service managers offering a wide view of healthcare news, views and opinions