Patients get 12 week treatment right in Scotland
Patients in Scotland get legal rights to get treated within 12 weeks of diagnosis.
The guarantee is one of the rights in the Charter of Patient Rights and Responsibilities. The Scottish Government is required by law to publish the rights under the Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011.
The 12 week time period is six weeks shorter than in England where patients have a legal right to be treated within 18 weeks of diagnosis. While Welsh patients have to wait three times longer than their Scottish counterparts for their treatment. In Wales patients can be treated within 36 weeks of diagnosis.
But the Welsh NHS has a target of treating 95% of patients after referral within 26 weeks. In Northern Ireland, the maximum wait is again 36 weeks.
Health Secretary Alex Neil said: "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 achieve 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, our NHS belongs to everyone - and everyone can help us to deliver the very best care."