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Waiting targets missed

16th October 2008

An NHS watchdog body report suggests that many GPs are missing their waiting time targets.

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The Healthcare Commission's annual report for England revealed that GPs in less than a third of trusts were hitting the target.

A review has been ordered after the latest figures showed a fall from 80% of GPs hitting the target last year.

Under the new GP contract of 2004, family doctors should be able to guarantee a patient an appointment within 48 hours.

Previously, primary care trusts (PCTs) had been asked to discover whether targets were being met but the latest Healthcare Commission report takes in the views of patients for the first time.

Gary Needle from the Healthcare Commission said he could not rule out that GPs had been lying about their performance and it was now up to PCTs to find out what has been happening.

He added: "We don't know what accounts for the disparity - that's the next step. But there's clearly something happening here.

"If it was only a 10% difference then you might say patients were not understanding the exact question put to them, but you can't explain away this scale of difference in that way. Patients are not getting sufficient access."

However, the British Medical Association said the figures were misleading.

Chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said: "There has been such significant change in the way the research has been compiled compared to last year that it is impossible to compare the data for the two years in question."

 

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