Refined waiting time targets?9th November 2007
Waiting times for NHS treatment may be amended to allow for â€śclinically justifiedâ€? delays.
The government had stated that all NHS patients in England would wait no more than 18 weeks for treatment from the point of referral by their GP by December 2008.
However, health minister Ben Bradshaw has now said the target may apply to 90% of patients with the clarification taking into account patients who may need to wait longer for surgery because they may need to lose weight before an operation, for example, the surgery date may be inconvenient for them, or they might opt to wait longer.
But Mr Bradshaw stressed that no patient would have to wait more than 18 weeks for treatment unless they chose to or it was necessary to delay treatment for clinical reasons.
At present about 70% of patients are being treated on target, but one in 10 still wait over a year though the health minister said 10 years ago it was common for people to wait 18 months for an operation.
â€śSince then, the NHS has come a long way and it is making good progress towards effectively ending waiting next year,â€? he said.
The BMA has been calling for high quality and safe clinical care to be put first for patients for some time.
BMA Consultantâ€™s Committee chairman Dr Jonathan Fielden said: â€śA possible 10% buffer will allow trusts to move the focus from purely finance to quality and ease some of the pressure to meet the politically set 18 week target.â€?
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