Patients who pay for private medicine often imagine that otherwise they would have to wait years for treatment. New research suggests that if they were given the correct information about NHS waiting times, they might decide differently.

In a study from the Institute of Health Policy Studies, London, only 30 per cent of a sample of patients who had chosen to go private had been told by their GPs how long they would have to wait for NHS treatment. They might be surprised to hear that 70 per cent of NHS patients are admitted to hospital within three months, and 50 per cent within five weeks of their outpatient appointment, says a report in Health Service Journal.