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Last Updated: Monday, 13 November 2006, 14:57 GMT
Still waiting for treatment
Doctors examining an X-ray
More or Less
Monday, 13 November, 2006
BBC Radio 4, 1630 GMT
On More or Less this week, we revealed the data that asks questions of the government's record on hospital waiting lists.

Following earlier reports on what is known as "gaming" in the NHS - that is, finding ways of getting around targets, or hitting the target but missing the point, as it is sometimes called - we were contacted by a number of people with direct experience of working in the NHS who said that they had more examples of their own.

One of these was from a man who said part of his job was to find reasons to stop or reset the clock on patient waiting times if an appointment was offered but turned down for any reason. They did not do it much in the past, he said, but they did it a lot now.

So we went to the Dr Foster organisation, which is paid by hospital trusts among others to analyse health data, and which had looked at what had happened to waiting times once this behaviour was stripped out.

What they found was that although the very longest waits had come down in response to government targets, the waiting times of the typical patient had, in many categories across a large number of trusts, gone up.

US elections

In this week's programme, we also looked at wages in the US among the middle and low earners, where it is said that falling or stagnant wages contributed to the Democrat showing in the mid-term elections.

And the small matter of a curse, or jinx which seems to affect people who appear on the front of certain magazines.

Is it true? Or is there another explanation?

Come on, this is More or Less, of course there is another explanation, but see if you can work out what it has to do with numbers.

Presenter: Andrew Dilnot
Producer: Michael Blastland

BBC Radio 4's More or Less was broadcast on Monday, 13 November, 2006 at 1630 GMT.


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