NHS waiting lists fall to 17-year low

The total number of people on NHS waiting lists has fallen to its lowest level in 17 years, according to statistics published today.

The department of health figures revealed that those on waiting lists dropped by 4,500 to 856,600 in September this year. This is the lowest figure since September 1987 and the first time waiting lists have fallen nine months in a row, the health department said.

The number of people waiting over six months for admission has also fallen by 100,000 in the last year. Since 1997, the NHS waiting lists have fallen overall by 300,000, the statistics found.

Health Minister John Hutton said: "Waiting times overall are continuing to fall thanks to the hard work of staff and the investment and capacity we are adding to the NHS.

"Year on year the trend on both waiting lists and waiting times is clearly downwards. Waiting lists fell below one million for the first time in a decade in March 2003 and since then we have continued to see further progress.

"By 2008 no one will have to wait longer than 18 weeks from GP referral to hospital treatment, and most people will experience much shorter waits, with even quicker access in priority areas such as cancer."


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