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Hospital target missed for 40,000

Nearly 40,000 hospital patients failed to receive NHS treatment in England within the target of 18 weeks in February, new figures show.

More than 13,000 of these took longer than 26 weeks, according to NHS England.

While the target is for 90% of hospital patients to begin consultant-led treatment within 18 weeks of referral, just 87% did so.

Labour said this represented the lowest percentage performance on record and the rate was 92.9% when the party was last in power in May 2010.

Today's figures also show the median waiting time has reached a record 10 weeks, up from 8.4 weeks at the time of the last election.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: "People expect NHS waiting lists to rise under the Tories and that is exactly what has happened under David Cameron. It is yet another sign of how the NHS has gone backwards on his watch.

"Waiting lists are at a seven-year high and thousands are facing that old Tory choice: wait longer in pain or pay to go private.

"Cameron inherited waiting lists at a record low and his reorganisation has dragged the NHS down to the point where it can no longer meet its waiting time targets. He promised to keep waiting times low but today's figures show his plan for the NHS has failed."

The last time the figure was so high was in April 2008, under Labour, when it was just over 40,000.

The lowest since then was in April 2009 when it dropped to less than 18,000.

NHS targets also mean that 95% of outpatients should start treatment within 18 weeks of referral, but this was 94.7% in February.

Nearly 45,000 were still waiting after 18 weeks, although this was surpassed in November when the figure was nearly 46,000.

An NHS England spokesman said: "In February the NHS made further strides in cutting long waits, with the number of patients who waited over a year slashed from over 5,000 three years ago to being in the hundreds now, and with the average wait for an operation being just 10 weeks."


From Belfast Telegraph