Lib Dems pledge to cut ‘hidden’ NHS waiting lists

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to cut the NHS’ ‘hidden’ waiting lists of people awaiting diagnosis.

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy promised to provide £350 million to help cut waiting times for diagnosis for around 500,000 people who, he said, are “languishing” on these “hidden” waiting lists.

The Liberal Democrats said that they had conducted research which indicated that patients could face “unacceptable” waits for essential scans.

The Liberal Democrats claimed that patients were waiting for MRI scans – used to detect tumours, cancers and serious heart conditions – for six months or more in 2 out of 5 NHS Trusts, while patients also faced a wait of six months or more for CT scans – used to diagnose cancers and serious neurological and cardiovascular conditions – in 1 out of 7 trusts.

The Liberal Democrats claimed that their research showed that many scanners are not being used, with a quarter of trusts saying that 25% or more of their on-site scanning equipment was not being used. The Liberal Democrats claimed that the main problem was a lack of funding for NHS radiology departments.

Mr Kennedy said: “At present, the government only measures the time taken from when you are diagnosed with an illness until you are actually treated. These targeted waiting times are indeed being reduced. But those on the hidden waiting lists – those waiting for tests and scans to find out what is wrong with them – have seen no action. This situation is totally unacceptable. Cutting waiting times for diagnosis will be a top priority for a Liberal Democrat government.”

Yesterday, Labour pledged to reduce the maximum waiting time for an NHS operation to 18 weeks. Speaking at a press conference, Tony Blair said that this would be done “without any hidden waits – so the 18 weeks starts from the door of the GP’s surgery and ends at the door of the hospital operating theatre.”


Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

14 March 2005
Lib Dems announce plans to cut 'unfair' health charges
Free eye and dental checks and an independent review of prescription charges have been pledged by the Liberal Democrats as they unveiled their health policy package. The party's policy also includes plans to tackle diagnostic waiting times, which they have described as "Labour's hidden waiting lists".
30 March 2005
Lib Dems launch local election campaign
The Liberal Democrats have launched their local government election campaign by declaring the party "the growing force" in local government. A statement released by the party stated that the Liberal Democrats had "pushed" Labour into third place in last year's local elections.
12 November 2004
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.
06 July 2005
Patients prefer better care to faster treatment, report claims
Patients would prefer to wait for better hospital treatment, rather than go to a hospital with shorter waiting lists. A study, conducted by RAND Europe, the King’s Fund and City University, found that patients were more likely to choose to be treated at a hospital with a good reputation rather than one that has shorter waiting times.
13 April 2005
Labour launch election manifesto
Tony Blair launched Labour’s election manifesto today with pledges to increase spending on education and the health service, alongside promises not to increase the basic or top rates of income tax.