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Health Services: Waiting Lists

Volume 488: debated on Monday 23 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many breaches of the 18-week maximum waiting time from GP referral to treatment there have been in each primary care trust since its introduction. (257370)

The 18-week maximum referral to treatment standard comes into effect from 1 January 2009. Every primary care trust and trust must strive to achieve this standard across all services and specialties, and monitor waits so that patients do not wait more than 18 weeks for reasons other than choice or clinical exception.

Referral to treatment data for January will be published on the pre-announced date of 26 March 2009.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will list the exemptions to the 18-week maximum waiting time from GP referral to treatment; (257371)

(2) whether the 18-week target maximum waiting time between GP referral and treatment applies in respect of second appointments.

The 18 week commitment covers consultant-led elective services. From 1 January 2009, the minimum expectation of consultant-led elective services will be that no one should wait more than 18 weeks from the time they are referred to the start of their hospital treatment, unless it is clinically appropriate to do so or they choose to wait longer. It includes all appointments including those for diagnostic tests between referral and first definitive treatment.

On completion of an 18 week referral to treatment period; a new 18 week clock starts when a clinical decision is made to start a substantively new or different treatment that does not already form part of that patient’s agreed care plan.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his most recent estimate is of the average number of days waiting time taken for an (a) in-patient and (b) out-patient appointment. (257407)

Latest published figures for the end of December 2008 show the median waiting time for an in-patient admission stands at 32.4 days, compared to 92.4 days in March 1997. The median waiting time for a first out-patient appointment stands at 22 days, compared to 36.5 days in April 2004 when out-patient data were first published.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how waiting times of more than 18 weeks from referral to treatment are recorded under the NHS’s performance sharing regime. (258136)

Guidance on the recording of performance sharing for 18 weeks is set out in a letter to strategic health authority chief executives sent on 21 August 2008. The letter (Gateway reference 10417) has been placed in the Library.