Rising NHS waiting lists risk damaging patient care, GPC warns

Rising NHS waiting lists risk damaging patient care and delaying identification of conditions like cancer, the GPC has warned.

An analysis by The Guardian found that five of England's six main referral-to-treatment time targets are ‘increasingly being breached’.

Dr Mark Porter, chairman of the BMA’s consultants committee told The Guardian that delays in identifying conditions like cancer may mean that illnesses reach the stage where treatment cannot save patients.

The GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey told GP the committee shared Dr Porter’s concerns.

‘GPs want their patients to be seen as soon as possible, and particularly when there is suspicion of serious disease,’ he said. 

‘We are very aware of the financial pressures the NHS is under, and will remain under for the foreseeable future, but providing good patient care has to remain our top priority.’

A DoH spokeswoman said the government was committed to keeping waiting times low. 'The average time patients wait for their treatment is currently 7.7 weeks, shorter than the 8.4 weeks patients were waiting in May last year,' she said.

She added: 'There are more people than ever before in the healthcare system. Demand is increasing: there were over 100,000 more diagnostic tests in the three months to May 2011 than in the three months to May 2010. But despite the rising number of people receiving treatment in the NHS, waiting times are stable.'

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