Voluntary collection and reporting of referral to treatment (RTT) data has been under way since autumn 2006. Mandatory national RTT waiting time collection for admitted patients begins this month, and for non-admitted patients in April. Publication will begin as soon as the data are of sufficient quality. For the admitted data this is likely to be in the spring; for the non-admitted data in the summer.
The national health service undertook a baseline data research exercise in summer 2006 involving an estimation methodology that looked at hospital attendance and admission records from earlier in the year. The results, which do not have the status of official or national statistics are available on the 18 weeks website (www.18weeks.nhs.uk) and suggest that, nationally, in early 2006, the pathways of 35 per cent. of admitted and 70-80 per cent. of non-admitted patients were completed within 18 weeks.