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Waiting time to be enshrined in law

Patients will have the right to quicker waiting times on the NHS enshrined in a new constitution, the government has said.

Under the NHS Constitution, from the beginning of next month targets for emergency cancer referrals and non-urgent treatment are to be turned into legal rights, Health Secretary Andy Burnham has announced.

Plans are being developed in conjunction with the government and Marie Curie Cancer Care to develop a right for people to die at home if they wish.

It came as the Tories called on the government to scrap targets, which Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley claimed was forcing staff to "focus on ticking boxes not patients".

Mr Burnham said a consultation on legal rights for patients had been supported by nine out of 10 people.

Patients will have the right to start treatment by a consultant within 18 weeks of GP referral and to be seen by a specialist within two weeks of an urgent GP referral for suspected cancer.

The new rights will also ensure that everyone aged 40-74 will be entitled to an NHS Health Check every five years.

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