NHS Waiting list targets missed

Just days after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced a £250 million drive to eliminate ‘unacceptable’ 12-month waiting lists for NHS patients in England, figures for June’s waiting list have been released, showing that 3.2 million patients are currently awaiting treatment. A small percentage, some 521 people, have been waiting for more than a year to start treatment. By the end of June, 93.8% of patients had to endure waits of up to 18 weeks, the figures show.

Mr Hunt admitted earlier this week that the NHS will miss its 18-week waiting-time targets over the coming months, he claimed that this was due to a focus on treating patients whose conditions are regarded as being more complex and time-consuming, but he insists the target will be met by the start of 2015.

Responding to the latest figures a Department of Health spokesman said the number of people waiting more than 18 weeks to be treated is still lower than 2010 when the current Government came to power, and added that 850,000 more operations had been carried out since then.

“We know parts of the NHS are under pressure – that’s why we’ve given the NHS support to do 100,000 extra operations this summer,” said the spokesman.

“By prioritising those who have waited the longest, the NHS is likely to miss the target for a while but we expect it to get back on track later in the year.”

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham accused the coalition government of failing in their pledge to cut waiting times.

“In June, the NHS missed its waiting time target with 32,500 people who waited longer than 18 weeks – the highest in six years.

“Under David Cameron, people are seeing a return to that old Tory choice of suffering in silence or paying to go private.”

NHS England said five Trusts had submitted either partial data or none at all for June, and Mr Burnham said it was “worrying” that the full figures were not available.

“What people will find worrying about these figures is the admission for the first time that there are around 160,000 people waiting who are missing from official figures,” he said.

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