Patients are waiting longer for tests and treatment as pressure on NHS grows

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 18 July 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d4583
  1. Ingrid Torjesen
  1. 1London

NHS waiting lists in England are creeping up slowly and could rise further under the pressure of winter illness and the effects of the required efficiency savings, a leading healthcare think tank has warned.

The second quarterly monitoring report by the King’s Fund, published last week, shows some worrying underlying trends. It points out that in June the proportion of patients waiting more than the 18 week target for inpatient and outpatient treatment in hospital was higher than at the same time last year.

In May 2010 92.9% of inpatients and 98.2% of outpatients were seen within 18 weeks, but in May 2011 these proportions were, respectively, 90.8% and 97.7%.

The report also warns: “The overall trend in median waiting times for diagnostics seems to be gradually upwards.” Department of Health data show that the proportion of patients waiting more than six weeks for results of diagnostic …

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