Minister urges GPs to commission to achieve 18-week target

GPs are being asked to consider how they can use practice-based commissioning to help the gov-ernment meet its 18-week referral to treatment targets.

Launching the latest figures on patient waiting times health minister Andy Burnham said they showed the challenge of meeting the 18-week target calling on the help of ‘clinicians in particular’.

Rough figures recorded during the first three months of this year show 70-80 per cent of ‘non-admitted’ patients and 35 per cent of ‘admitted’ patients were seen within 18 weeks. The DoH target is that both groups should have 100 per cent seen within 18 weeks by the end of 2008.

Mr Burnham said: ‘Doing more of the same is not the answer - we know that traditional tactics to reduce waiting times will not be enough this time.

‘The NHS, and clinicians in particular, need to think innovatively about the way services are provided, embracing some of the new commissioning levers such as practice-based commissioning to drive change in clinical practice and improvements in the patient experience.’

Mr Burnham also announced that the NHS would be asked to make substantial progress on 18 weeks delivery by March 2008 when 85 per cent of admitted patients and 90 per cent of non-admitted patients, should be completed within 18 weeks. These milestones ‘will be reflected in locally-agreed NHS Contracts for Acute Hospital Services’ he said.

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