South West NHS waiting times lowest ever

PUBLISHED: 11:44 24 July 2008 | UPDATED: 09:21 10 June 2010

Thursday, July 24 - THE NHS says waiting times for patients living in the South West are now at their lowest ever.

THE NHS says waiting times for patients living in the South West are now at their lowest ever.

Patients in the South West of England can now expect to have any hospital appointments and tests and begin any necessary treatment within just 18 weeks from referral by their GP - six months ahead of the new national standard.

The NHS says hospital waiting times in the South West are now among the shortest in the country, with all 22 organisations across the region having achieved the national 18 weeks waiting times target in the last week of June 2008; six months ahead of schedule.

These organisations have ensured that at least 90 per cent of patients whose treatment required a stay in hospital and at least 95 per cent of patients whose treatment was completed without a hospital stay were seen within 18 weeks.

Sir Ian Carruthers OBE, chief executive, said: "We know from what patients tell us that they expect to be seen and treated promptly. NHS staff have put a lot of focus on reducing waiting times and we believe this will benefit patients and users of NHS services.

"These improvements in waiting times have only been made possible due to the hard work, and dedication of all of our NHS staff, along with the help and consideration of patients in terms of either keeping their appointments, or letting the hospital or health centre know if they are unable to attend, so that any spare sessions can be offered to other patients who are waiting." "No patient should have to experience an unnecessary or unwanted delay in receiving treatment, and that is why one of our key ambitions for the future is to ensure that by March 31 2011, the maximum wait from referral to treatment in the South West will be eight weeks."

Ben Bradshaw, Health Minister and Minister for the South West, said:

"For the South West to hit this target early is a great achievement and fantastic news for patients. Our hard working NHS staff deserve our profound thanks and congratulations.

"We often forget that 11 years ago it was not uncommon to wait up to two years for an operation - with people suffering, in pain and, in some cases dying on waiting lists. A maximum wait of 18 weeks and a much shorter average wait for most people are real causes of celebration for the NHS's 60th birthday.

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