More waiting for key NHS tests
The number of people waiting more than six weeks for key NHS tests has almost quadrupled in one year, figures show.
In June, there were 12,521 people waiting more than six weeks for one of 15 key tests, including MRI, CT and heart scans, ultrasound, barium enemas and colonoscopies.
This is up on the 3,510 waiting more than six weeks in June 2010. There has also been a nine-fold increase in the number of people waiting more than 13 weeks for one of the tests. In June, there were 1,763 people waiting more than 13 weeks, up from just 190 in June 2010.
Last week, some foundation trusts warned they would struggle to meet commitments on treating people within set time limits, and said the four-hour target for people to be seen in A&E was under threat.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has relaxed some NHS targets on waiting times but he and Prime Minister David Cameron have pledged to keep waiting times low.
The data published by the Department of Health also shows 595,500 people in total across England waiting for diagnostic tests in June - the highest number this year. It is up on the 584,422 in May, the 556,864 in April, 575,662 in March, 549,326 in February and 527,390 in January.
Overall, the number of tests carried out between April 2010 and March 2011 has risen 2.8% on the previous year, from 37.7 million to 38.8 million.
Data calculated by the Department of Health shows that people occupying the mid-point in the range of waiting times had a 1.7 week wait in June 2010, and a 1.8 week wait in June 2011.
Health minister Lord Howe said: "The number of people waiting over six weeks has come down since last month.
"This was achieved despite increasing pressures on the NHS, with around 125,000 more diagnostic tests in the three months to June 2011 compared to the same period last year. This shows why we need to modernise the NHS to protect it for future generations."