The guarantee means that patients will have a legal right to receive treatment within a maximum of 12 weeks from when they are diagnosed and agree to the treatment.
The guarantee is one of the rights in the Charter of Patient Rights and Responsibilities which brings together, in one place, a summary of the rights and responsibilities that patients have when using NHS services.
As part of this work, an independent advice service has also been set up to offer advice and support to NHS patients across Scotland. PASS (Patients Advice and Support Service) will be delivered through local Citizen’s Advice Bureaux offices and Health Board Patient Information Centres.
Patient Advisers will be on hand to provide advice and encourage patients to give feedback on their experiences to help further improve NHS healthcare.
Health Secretary Alex Neil commented: “Patients in Scotland are being treated quicker than ever – and this fast treatment will now be protected by a legal guarantee.
“We are continuing to meet our full 18 weeks from GP referral to treatment target, and now, as part of this journey, once patients are diagnosed and agree to the treatment it will start within 12 weeks.
“In 2007 over 29,000 people were stuck on ‘hidden waiting lists’ not getting the treatment they needed. I am proud that Scottish patients are reaping the benefits of what the NHS can be achieved by protecting the founding principles of the National Health Service.
“The Charter marks an important step forward in giving people more say in their health service.
“Our health service is remaining in public hands so we want patients to be as involved as possible.
“We know that while our health service does a fantastic job, it is not perfect and that is why we need everyone to give us their feedback so that health boards can continually improve the care they provide.
“We put patients before profits and everyone can help us to deliver the very best care.”
Commitment to patients needs is something NHS Borders Director of Nursing and Midwifery, Evelyn Fleck was keen to emphasise when commenting on the Treatment Time Gurantee.
“The Treatment Time Guarantee’ sits within the Charter of Patient Rights and Responsibilities,” she said.
“The Charter as a whole puts people at the centre of the NHS and reinforces NHS Borders values that high quality, effective and safe care and treatment are at heart of all we do.
“It is our promise to listen to people’s views, gather information about their perceptions and personal experiences of care and use that information to further improve the care we offer.
“In recent patient surveys, 91% of Borders patients were positive about being involved as much as they wanted to be in decisions about their care and treatment and more than 95% said they were positive about doctors and nurses listening to them and spending enough time with them.”
England’s NHS constitution says no patient should wait longer than 18 weeks for treatment after referral from their GP, awhile in Wales the target is to treat 95 per cent of patients within 26 weeks.