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MAJOR LISTING BADLY; ELECTION 97: YOU CAN ONLY BE SURE OF MORE TORY FAILURE; Cover-up over NHS patients.

John Major was caught trying to hide the truth about hospital waiting lists last night.

The Tories were forced to admit that patients are waiting LONGER to see specialists.

But the damning evidence was sneaked out in a low-key Government statistical service bulletin.

Shadow Health Secretary Chris Smith declared: "These new figures are a huge embarrassment to John Major. They show yet again that his Citizens' Charter is not worth the paper it's written on."

Under the Tory charter, NHS patients are promised: "When your GP or dentist refers you to the hospital nine out of 10 people can expect to be seen within 13 weeks

"Everyone can expect to be seen within 26 weeks - over time, the Government will be working to tighten this standard further."

But the new figures reveal that as last year ended an astonishing 257,000 patients were still waiting to see the specialist more than 13 weeks after their GPs had written asking for an appointment.

And 68,500 of them had been waiting more than 26 weeks. Three months earlier the number was 62,000.

The statistics reveal that of the 1.9 million patients actually seen between October and January, 57,630 had waited more than 26 weeks for their appointment - 19,750 up on the previous quarter.

The Health Department said the bulletin had been sent out to journalists and other interested bodies without the usual covering press release because of election rules.

Mr Smith said the report only showed how long patients were having to wait to see a specialist - before they even go on the main waiting list for treatment.

Earlier, another health row erupted after it was revealed that NHS chief executives got pay rises averaging 6.2 per cent over the past year, more than twice the rate of inflation, while nurses had to plead for more money.

Seven of the biggest earners now make more than pounds 100,000 and nearly 60 were given double figure increases.

Nurses were awarded just two per cent and told to beg for an extra one per cent from the same hospital chiefs.

A survey by the independent Incomes Data Services found one executive's pay rose by 30 per cent last year.

The biggest earner was John Cooper, chief of Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust, who scooped pounds 118,000, including bonus and benefits worth pounds 22,000.

Labour have pledged to open up the question of health chiefs' pay by ordering trusts to publish details of perks and salaries.

TONY BLAIR yesterday promised to review the Tory sale of the civil air traffic control system.

He said: "We inherit their Treasury plans. In those Treasury plans they have got the proceeds from that sale."

These total a massive pounds 1.5billion, which would leave a large hole in Labour's budget if they decided against privatisation.

But Mr Blair says he will make no decision either way until after the election.
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Article Details
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Author:Dodd, Sheree
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 11, 1997
Words:490
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