In some areas, patients endured delays of 12 or 15 weeks after GPs decided they needed surgery, even though hospitals could have seen them sooner.
The maximum permitted time between referral and treatment is 18 weeks. In one case a manager said the policy keeps patients in line as “short waiting times also create more demand for treatment due to the expectations this raises”.
If the money follows the patient then the incentive is to treat wherever and whenever there is the ability to treat. There is also an incentive for a treatment centre to get a reputation for short waiting times.