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NHS Waiting Times on the Increase

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NHS waiting times for diagnostic tests have tripled within 12 months according to new figures.

Yesterday David Cameron stated that, “waiting times really matter… I refuse to go back to the days when people had to wait for months and months to have surgery done. So let me be absolutely clear: we won’t.”

However, figures revealed today show that 1409 people waited more than three months for diagnostic procedures in April this year, compared to just 193 in the same period last year. Additionally, more than 14 000 patients who had diagnostic procedures, including MRI scans, in April 2011 had waited more than six weeks. This is despite a 2% decrease in the number of diagnostic procedures being carried out in April 2011 compared to 2010.

David Cameron has announced he will retain the 18-week wait target, introduced by Labour and enshrined in the NHS constitution but these figures add to increasingly growing concerns that NHS waiting times are growing out of control.

A spokeswoman for the department of health insists that these figures reflect the growing demand on NHS diagnostic services, which she said were up around 5% in the first four months of 2011. 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 more diagnostic tests than the same period last year,”

She also added that the NHS needs reform to be able to cope, “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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