Government pledges 285,000 more NHS operations by 2008

The government announced a new target to carry out 285,000 more NHS operations in family doctors surgeries and outpatient clinics over the next three years as part of a drive to speed up simpler operations and make them more accessible to patients.

Including the extra operations outside hospitals, the total number of non-urgent NHS operations is set to rise by around 17% over the next three years, according to Local Development Plans (LDPs) being published by the 28 Strategic Health Authorities in England over the next few weeks.

The LDPs indicate that 100,000 more operations from the overall 17% increase will be carried out by the independent and private sectors on behalf of the NHS, while the number of Diagnostic and Treatment Centres - specialist surgical hospitals which provide only non-urgent operations - will rise to 100 by 2006.

The government expects to see the number of NHS nurses to rise by 35,000 up to 2008, while the number of NHS doctors will increase by 15,000 over the same period.

Health Secretary Alan Milburn said: "The NHS is growing across the board. For the first time in decades the number of nurses, doctors and beds is growing. The NHS is now turning the corner. There is of course a long way to go. These local plans show how the resources and reforms going into the NHS will deliver improved local services for NHS patients, They show that a new is NHS emerging - one in which care is faster, more accessible and offers patients a greater choice."

Earlier this week, Shadow Health Spokesman Chris Grayling accused the government of massaging figures to fall within their targets.

Mr Grayling said: “In the data he tried to hide away, we see that 53 hospital trusts have longer waiting lists now than they did in 2000. And to make a further nonsense of the government’s star rating system, 12 of these trusts are three-star trusts.

“Yet again we see that nothing the government does can be taken at face value. All the around the country people are suffering while Alan Milburn tells us that everything is getting better.”


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