Average NHS wait falls to eight weeks24th October 2008
Ministers say the average waiting time for hospital treatment from GP referral are the lowest since the NHS began.
New data shows that nine out of 10 patients are treated within 18 weeks and the average wait is eight weeks from GP referral.
This compares with waiting times of up to two years just over a decade ago.
However, there are areas where the targets are still not being met.
Just over half of trusts are still failing to meet the 18-week target for inpatient and outpatient access and specialties such as orthopaedics and neurosurgery have longer waits.
All trusts have to meet the 18-week target by December in a move designed to bring waiting times in the UK closer to those of Europe.
Health secretary Alan Johnson said: "This is an extraordinary achievement for the NHS when the range and complexity of treatments has never been greater. Achieving our18-week commitment nationally five months early is great news for patients.
"It has not been met by every NHS trust – however, hitting the national aggregate is a huge achievement and an important milestone."
Waiting lists and times for orthopaedics were worst in the south and south-east of England while longer waits in neurosurgery were blamed on an international shortage of spinal surgeons.
The government has also said that the current problems in the economy were unlikely to impact on the Department of Health budget with the NHS having had 5% growth in the current year and expecting the same over the next two years.
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Title: Average NHS wait falls to eight weeks
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 8892
Date Added: 24th Oct 2008