Long hosptial operation waits targeted
Posted: August 6, 2014
The NHS has been ordered to tackle long operation waiting times by prioritising patients that have been awaiting routine treatment for longer than they should have. The official target aims to see more than 100,000 procedures being carried out during the summer months, prioritising those that have waited longer than 18 weeks. There are currently around 200,000 in that position, with 65,000 having waited for over half a year, and 500 for more than a year.
Despite this new plan to speed up operation waiting times, ministers said that the performance against the target could slip into being a “managed breach”. This is because the patients that have been awaiting treatment for the longest period of time tend to have the most “complex and difficult” cases. Those who have been waiting for treatment for the longest have been previously referred to as the “hidden list”.
Slips for first time since 2008
A standard target was set by the NHS to ensure that 90% of patients that require non-emergency operations, such as hip and knee replacements, are seen within 18 weeks. However, this target started to see slips in February and March despite having been introduced in 2008.
The department of health said that the situation should have returned to normal by the end of the year. The number of patients facing long waits has already started to decline since the issue was identified in 2011.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “No-one – except in exceptional circumstances – should have to wait for more than a year … We need targets that help patients get treatment when they need it – not targets followed blindly with no regard for the impact on individuals.”
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