Only 54 per cent of patients treated within 18-week target

Latest NHS figures show that the DoH is highly unlikely to meet its 18-week referral to treatment target by 2008.

Of the 224,819 patient pathways monitored in June this year, 54 per cent completed their treatment within 18 weeks of referral. This compared to 53 per cent in May.

The NHS Improvement Plan, published in July 2004, stated that ‘by 2008, no one will have to wait longer than 18 weeks from GP referral to hospital treatment’.

Chairman of the BMA's consultants committee Dr Jonathan Fielden said: ‘2008 is just around the corner and, despite significant efforts and a small improvement in reducing waiting times, today’s figures show just how far the government is from realising its ambitious 18-week target.

‘More progress could have been made but for the loss of focus on quality and the fixation on delivering a financial surplus. Doctors are repeatedly frustrated at being unable to treat as many people as they can, as efficiently as they can due to this excessive focus on money.

‘To the one in ten patients still waiting more than a year and one in three waiting more than five months for their treatment the financial surplus will ring hollow.’

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