Prime Minister under fire after waiting lists for NHS tests soar

Posted: June 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

Tens of thousands of patients a year spend more than four hours waiting in Accident and Emergency departments, according to official figures.
The number of patients waiting several weeks for vital health tests on the NHS has tripled within 12 months, according to official figures.

David Cameron came under attack at PMQs for his record on the NHS Photo: PA
Richard Alleyne

By Richard Alleyne

6:00PM BST 08 Jun 2011

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They show that 50 per cent more people waited beyond the target time, equating to an extra 185,800 patients a year spending more than four hours in A&E.

 Meanwhile the number of patients waiting several weeks for vital health tests on the NHS has tripled within 12 months.

They show that 14,163 people are now being forced to wait longer than six weeks for scans and internal examinations, after targets for treatment times were scrapped. That is up from 4,129 in the same time last year, the official figures showed.

The number of patients with three-month-plus waits also rose, with 1,409 people waiting this long against just 193 the previous April.

The average waiting time for tests under the NHS was 2.3 weeks in April – a 40 per cent increase on the typical 1.7-week wait of a year before.

These latest diagnostic figures will add to concerns that NHS waiting times are slipping out of control.

Labour criticised David Cameron after the figures emerged.

John Healey, the shadow health secretary, said: “Yesterday David Cameron pledged to keep waiting times low. These figures show he is breaking his NHS promises again, as long waiting times for tests have trebled during his year as Prime Minister.”

The Department of Health admitted that the increase was “disappointing”.

But a spokesman added that the proportion of patients waiting long periods was still very low.

“Waiting times go up and they go down – but they remain broadly stable,” she said. “The average waiting time for diagnostic tests is still low at 2.3 weeks.

“This is despite increases in diagnostic test activity -the first four months of 2011 saw 230,000 – 4.7 per cent – more diagnostic tests than the same period last year.

“This increase in demand on the NHS shows exactly why we need to modernise the NHS to drive improvements in performance.”

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