Tuesday, 21 April 2009

David Williams congratulates staff of Leighton Hospital

The NHS now has the shortest waits since its records began. The latest data shows that in Crewe and Nantwich and across England the NHS has met its target to treat patients within a maximum of 18 weeks from referral by their GP – an achievement which was unimaginable 12 years ago.

"This is a tremendous achievement by NHS clinicians and staff in Crewe and Nantwich who should be proud of the difference their hard work has made to the experience of every NHS patient.

"Achieving the shortest waits since NHS records began has made a huge difference to patients’ experiences of the NHS. In the 1990s it was not uncommon for people to wait 18 months or more for their operation – with some people dying on the waiting list.

"The NHS is one of our country's greatest achievements and I will always value stand up for it. I'm proud that over Labour’s years in government, we have made sure the NHS has the staff it needs and backed them to deliver improvements in standards and driving down waits. Today's news is further evidence that this investment has worked."

Nationally the NHS met its commitment six months ago to ensure that 90% of patients who require admission to hospital and 95% of patients not needing admission, start treatment within 18 weeks of referral from their GP. Today’s figures confirm that every part of the country is now meeting this standard.

Time spent waiting is important to patients which is why the Labour Government made it a priority to reduce waiting times. This has made a significant difference to the treatment experience of millions of patients. For example:

Over 250,000 patients have a cataract removed every year. The average referral to treatment time for these patients has reduced by half, from 20 weeks in March 2007 to 10 weeks in January 2009

Hardness of hearing and deafness affect the lives of large numbers of people. The NHS treats over 400,000 patients referred directly to audiology services every year where the average wait from referral to treatment is now 5.3 weeks.

NHS waiting times are the lowest they have ever been since NHS records began, 92.9% of admitted patients and 97.3% of non-admitted patients were treated within 18 weeks in January.

The median wait from referral to inpatient treatment was 8.6 weeks and from referral to outpatient treatment was 4.6 weeks.

It’s not just patients who are feeling the benefits of 18 weeks; clinicians also value the difference it makes to their patients and the quality of care they provide.

David Williams concluded, "I'm really proud of this achievement by Labour in Government, we must continue to improve services. What amazes me is that the Tories are abolishing these important targets that deliver real benefits. It just shows that they haven't learnt and that the Tories cannot be trusted to run the NHS."

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