Most waiting list targets hit27th February 2009
Latest figures show the NHS in England has in most cases hit the government’s waiting time target of 18 weeks for hospital treatment from seeing their GP.
Statistics reveal the median wait is down to 7.6 weeks for inpatient treatment and 4.1 weeks for outpatient treatment.
However, not all hospitals have hit the target in all specialities.
Some 7,000 patients needing orthopaedic treatment and 350 awaiting neurosurgery were waiting more than 18 weeks at the end of December.
The target – to allow for some patients who wish to wait longer or are not suitable for treatment within that timescale – is 90% for inpatients and 95% for outpatients.
Chris Ham, professor of health services management at the University of Birmingham, said he envisaged that over the next 18 months there would be pressure to sustain this performance, particularly against a backdrop of recession and with the NHS facing a fall in its rate of growth.
Prof Ham said: "No government will want waiting times to slip. But the financial pressure will be such that something will have to give. If waiting times are made the overriding priority, then other parts of the service, for example the national dementia strategy, will not get the resources they need to be taken forward effectively.”
Hospitals not meeting the targets were in Sunderland where fewer than three quarters of orthopaedic patients were treated within 18 weeks while in Kingston, south London, fewer than 60% were.
The Department of Health said an improvement was expected in such performances in the near future.
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