Big fall in NHS waits16th November 2012
Latest Department of Health figures show a significant fall in the number of people in England who have been waiting more than a year for NHS hospital treatment.
Data shows the number fell from 20,000 in September 2011 to just over 1,600 patients this September.
While the government says the fall is because of NHS performance, analysts say it is down to information being recorded better.
It comes after ministers decided to crack down on hidden waits for NHS hospital treatment after it emerged patients missing out on being treated within 18 weeks of being referred by their family doctor were left on waiting lists for months.
NHS analyst Rob Findlay said the majority of the reduction was down to “data cleaning”.
But he added: “This fall is still valuable for the thousands of patients who have benefited. The important thing now is to ensure the health service tackles the remaining 1,613 who have been waiting more than a year. They need to bring that down to zero.”
Health minister Lord Howe said the health service was performing well for patients with average waiting times "low and stable".
Labour said the figures did not tell the full story and many people were struggling to get on waiting lists as more restrictions were imposed on access to treatment on grounds of cost.
The number waiting over six months for their procedure stands at just under 46,000 - down more than 60,000 compared with a year earlier - with about 2.6m people currently on NHS waiting lists in England.
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Title: Big fall in NHS waits
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 23166
Date Added: 16th Nov 2012