British government comes clean on health service queues

The British government and National Health Service (NHS) recently acknowledged the country's wide gap between patient admittance and treatment, in its first attempt to tell the full truth about health service queues in England, says John Carvel, social affairs editor at the Guardian.

According to a NHS Department of Health analysis:

One in eight NHS hospital patients still has to wait more than a year for treatment

Some 30 per cent waited more than 30 weeks and 12.4 per cent more than a year.

In Swindon and in Brighton, less than a quarter of patients were treated within 18 weeks.

Overall, 208,000 people admitted in March showed only 48 per cent were within the operating theatre within 18 weeks of a General Practitioner (GP) sending them for hospital diagnosis.

The shadow health secretary, Andrew Lansley, said the figures revealed "a postcode lottery in access to care." For many treatments, the 18-week target was not ambitious enough. "On the continent waits of this kind would be regarded as outrageous. But a one-size-fits-all target will distort clinical care and damage the NHS."

And Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, added: "Behind the statistics, thousands of sick people are still waiting more than a year for hospital treatment. This is a daily tragedy."

Source: John Carvel, One in eight patients waiting over a year for treatment, admits minister, Manchester Guardian, June 8, 2007.

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For more on Health Issues:

FMF Policy Bulletin/ 12 June 2007
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