Health secretary is to bring back target to reduce numbers waiting 18 weeks for treatment

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 21 November 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d7531
  1. Adrian O’Dowd
  1. 1London

So called “hidden” waiting times for treatment in hospitals in England are to be tackled in a new drive that the government is expected to announce next week.

Hospitals could face financial penalties if they fail to meet a new target that is due to be unveiled before the end of November, set by the government to tackle the rising numbers of people waiting longer than 18 weeks for treatment.

Critics and health experts have expressed surprise that the government is planning a new target, given that it has repeatedly said it disapproved of the last Labour government’s many NHS targets.

The previous government introduced a waiting time target stipulating that 90% of inpatients and 95% of …

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