NHS set to slash waiting times


WAITING times for operations could be slashed to 18 weeks for most patients in North Yorkshire following a turnaround in performance which is set to benefit eight out of ten of those needing treatment in the county. The national agenda for NHS trusts is that 85 per cent of clients should not have to wait more than 18 weeks for surgery and other procedures after their GP decides they might need more specialist help.

However, last June figures showed North Yorkshire and York Primary Care Trust managed to see only 59 per cent of people referred by their family doctor before that deadline.

Yesterday the PCT said it was on track to reach its target by March following moves to streamline and fast-track services, as well as delivering more care in the community.

Director of Commissioning and Service Development Jane Marshall said: "Everyone involved in delivering health services in North Yorkshire is working tremendously hard and making considerable progress towards the March milestone.

"In November approximately 65 per cent of admitted patients were admitted within 18 weeks and 76 per cent of non-admitted patients were treated within 18 weeks.

"We are confident these figures will continue to rise in line with the overall target of having the new system in place by December 2008.The primary concern of this work is to offer better care for patients more quickly.

"By working to deliver the new system we can ensure that patients receive the care they need when they need it, which will also benefit patients' families and NHS staff."

In addition to meeting the 18-week promise for 85 per cent of patients requiring hospital admission by March, the PCT aims to meet 90 per cent for patients requiring out-patient attention.

Doing more work in the community and through general practitioners means patients have to spend less time in hospital waiting for tests and treatment. The trust ha s also been able to cut down on the number appointments by doing more diagnosis work in one session.

Not only does a shorter wait mean less heartache and discomfort, but it also means patients can be removed from the system sooner if given a clean bill of health. An early intervention is also likely to get better results.

It also means less 999 admissions for staff to deal with because routine problems are less likely to become acute.

Happier patients also mean happier doctors and nurses. Not only are both pleased with the faster response, but it helps time management, clearing theatre schedules for more day surgery.

The new arrangements also involve closer working between front line NHS and hospital staff and the family doctor.

Dr George Campbell added: "As a GP I welcome the 18 week treatment pathway. This will make a significant improvement to the patient experience."