Patients in the UK will have legal rights to receive care for elective procedures and urgent cancer referrals within set time periods, if government proposals get the go-ahead.

Under the new guidelines, consultants will be required to start treatment within 18 weeks of GP referral and cancer specialists within two weeks of referral.

The proposals also include a National Health Service (NHS) Health Check every five years for those aged 40–74 to assess the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.

If the NHS fails to meet the requirements, it will be required to find alternative providers.