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Health: Waiting Times

Volume 688: debated on Thursday 25 January 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the average time it now takes for citizens to (a) see their general practitioner (GP); (b) see a consultant, on referral by the GP, by way of the “choose and book” system; (c) obtain an appointment for a diagnostic procedure, for example, an MRI scan, a CT scan or a blood test, on referral by a consultant; (d) obtain a follow-up appointment with the consultant to discuss the results of the diagnostic procedure; and (e) enter hospital for the appropriate surgery or treatment. [HL739]

Data on the average time it takes to see a general practitioner are not available centrally. However, monthly data from primary care trusts do indicate that almost everyone is now able to see a general practitioner within 48 hours. The Healthcare Commission's annual report for 2006 suggests that 88 per cent of patients confirm this.

The median waiting time for a first outpatient appointment at the end of October was 5.9 weeks. Specific data on waiting times to see a consultant when referred via choose and book are not available centrally.

The October data show that the median waiting time for the 15 key diagnostic tests was 5.2 weeks. The data do not differentiate between types of referrer.

Information on follow-up appointments is not available centrally.

The median inpatient waiting time at the end of October was 6.9 weeks.