January 26, 2011 by sharonbrennan
In June 2010 health secretary Andrew Lansley scrapped NHS waiting list targets. He argued they created too much paper work and he wanted the NHS measured on “patient outcomes’ instead of arbitrary targets. Unsurprisingly with the targets gone, waiting lists are now creeping up. Lansley is wrong to think patients will only judge the NHS on outcomes, they will judge it on the whole process from start to finish. How long you wait to see a doctor, receive a diagnosis and start treatment are intrinsic to what patients think about the NHS.
Trade magazine, Pulse, announced today that waiting lists have increased, on average, by a quarter already.
- The proportion of admitted patients who did not receive treatment within 18 weeks has risen by a fifth – from 6.7% to 8% – with 23,826 missing out.
- The number of people waiting more than the previous target of six weeks for diagnostic tests rose by more than 90% compared with the same period last year.
In short, ill patients are being told to wait longer to receive treatment or to even know what is wrong with them.
All statistics are based on the Department of Health data. I’ll continue to blog on waiting time targets, as it is my guess they will continue to rise and rise as the NHS struggles to make £20 billion of efficiency savings by 2014 with just a 0.1% annual increase to their budget in the same period.
Lansley may want to remember that NHS patients are also voters. His decision to scrap targets, which at the time received little coverage, may well come back to haunt him in four years time.