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Tuesday 20th August 2019

Waiting times to be reviewed

10th July 2014

The president of the Royal College of Surgeons in the UK, Clare Marx, has called for a review of the waiting target for routine operations in England. She said that patients needing urgent treatment, such as a gall bladder operation, should have surgery sooner.

The Patients Association has backed the call for a debate, saying it is unfair to apply the waiting target to all operations.

Both England and Scotland have around 18 weeks as their target, whereas NHS Wales aims for 26 weeks. Their target refers to the the time period between a patient's referral by their GP and the beginning of their treatment.

She argues delaying surgery can sometimes cost the health service money. Her call for a debate over waiting comes amongst a difficult time for the NHS, as it faces huge financial pressures.

"One of the really good things is we've worked in a system that didn't ask us to think about money and that was probably a mistake. I don't think we have been good enough - we need to be educated in what things cost," she said.

What is being done?

The Department of Health recently announced an additional £250m for the NHS to combat some of the backlogs that have arisen.

Currently health officials say there is no plan to change the 18-week target, and point to a falling number of patients in recent years facing the very longest waits.

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