A SENIOR solicitor at Patient Claim Line, a leading UK medical negligence law firm has answered questions about coronavirus patients’ legal right to get the treatment they need.

Kate Goodman said: "There have been a number of news headlines reporting that cancer patients are unable to access potentially life-saving treatments such as operations to remove their tumours, or much needed chemotherapy.

"This is understandably a very distressing time for such patients, who are already living under a cloud of uncertainty."

“If your operation is cancelled due to the Covid-19, there are a number of things you can do."

"The NHS has a maximum waiting time for non-urgent referrals of 18 weeks. This means that from the date of your referral by your doctor, you should be seen and preferably, undergo treatment within 18 weeks."

"This target however, is not always met and different hospitals have different waiting times for surgery. It is not uncommon for a hospital to have a waiting time of twice this for some procedures. It is also foreseeable that the 18 week target may well be suspended entirely in the wake of a Covid-19 outbreak."

"If your procedure has already been cancelled on the day of surgery, then you should be offered another date for the procedure within 28 days, or the hospital an fund the treatment at a date and hospital of your choice . If the hospital does not comply with this, you have a right to complain to PALS at the hospital, or the Clinical Commissioning Group who referred you for treatment.”

"However, if you have already experienced a significant delay well in excess of the 18 weeks target, and you suffer a further significant delay as a result of Covid-19, there is a possibility that your wait will have become so excessive as to become a breach of duty of care.”

"If you have suffered unnecessarily as a result of these delays, then Patient Claim Line will be able to advise you on whether you may have a medical negligence claim.”