[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 23 February 2006, 17:09 GMT
Health waiting times target 'met'
Operation
The executive said there would be further work to reduce waiting
A commitment to cut waiting times for NHS treatment to six months or less has been met, according to figures.

Statistics from the NHS show that just four patients waited longer than six months either to see a specialist, or to have an operation.

Figures do not include a third of all patients, waiting on Availability Status Codes for specialised treatment or because they did not turn up.

The Scottish Executive has pledged to abolish these codes by 2007.

Health Minister Andy Kerr said the reduction in maximum waits was a "tremendous achievement".

'Next challenge'

He said: "This is the best performance ever recorded for inpatient and day case waiting. The best performance ever recorded for outpatient waiting.

"The guarantees and targets for heart treatment have again been met. And there have been significant reductions made in waiting lists."

The minister said new ways of working had brought greater NHS capability and flexibility.

"Meeting the six month target is not an endpoint but a springboard for the next challenge - the NHS is already working on meeting the 18-week maximum target for the end of 2007," he added.

Target 'breaches'

Mr Kerr said that all Scottish NHS boards had now produced plans showing how they would phase out the Availability Status Code system by next year.

Scottish National Party health spokeswoman Shona Robison acknowledged "progress" had been made on waiting times and paid tribute to NHS staff.

But she said patients not covered by the guarantee accounted for a third of all patients waiting in Scotland.

"Those patients have no right to be treated within the waiting times target but most will still require to be treated by the NHS at some point," she said.

The Conservatives claimed that targets were part of the problem of managing the NHS.

Party leader Annabel Goldie said: "When we analyse the facts more closely than the executive would like, we can see that 10% of patients are not receiving outpatient appointments within 26 weeks and 10% of inpatients are not being admitted within six months.

"These are breaches of specific pledges set out in the partnership agreement, due to be met by the end of 2005.

"Funnily enough, we didn't hear too much about that."


SEE ALSO:
Drop in NHS waiting times praised
16 Feb 06 |  Scotland
Warning over cancer waiting times
13 Oct 05 |  Scotland
Row over hip surgery list times
13 Oct 05 |  Scotland
NHS board reviews waiting offers
27 Jul 05 |  Scotland
Board under cardiac microscope
22 Jul 05 |  Scotland
NHS savings 'will not hit care'
24 Jun 05 |  Scotland


RELATED BBC LINKS:

RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific