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Hospital Minimum Waiting Times

Volume 450: debated on Thursday 19 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) which strategic health authorities have authorised the use of hospital minimum waiting times as a means of demand management within the NHS; and which clinical conditions are specifically (a) included and (b) excluded from this system; (91121)

(2) what discussions have taken place with strategic health authorities about the introduction of hospital minimum waiting times as a mechanism of demand management; and if she will make a statement.

It is for local primary care trusts and national health service trusts to agree their local service agreements and include within these the national requirement to meet the current maximum waiting standards. Arrangements to ensure these service agreements are in place are for strategic health authorities.

The minimum standards set for the NHS include maximum waiting times of 13 weeks for out-patients and 26 weeks for in-patients. Most patients, including those with the most urgent clinical need, are seen more quickly. As progress is made towards the December 2008 target of 18 weeks maximum wait from referral to treatment, these standards will fall further.