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Reid's promise to slash waiting time.

The Government has met its target to halve the maximum waiting time for an NHS operation to nine months, Health Secretary John Reid announced yesterday.

He said only 'a handful' of people in England now waited longer and the Government would slash the maximum wait by another 50 per cent by 2008.

He said: 'The figures haven't officially come out but I can tell you that there is no one in England now, other than 20 or 30 people, waiting more than nine months. That is a 50 per cent reduction in the maximum waiting time since the Government came in, due to the efforts of staff. If we have halved it over the last five years, we are going to halve it over the next four years as well, so that by 2008, the maximum waiting time in this country will be about three or four months and the average waiting time for an operation will be five weeks.'

'We will halve the maximum again and we will halve the average again.

'That is the sort of health service we should have had in this country for 50 years and we are going to deliver it.'

He told the programme, which was broadcast live from a Bedfordshire hospital: 'That is largely down to all of the people sitting here today, the staff.'

Dr Reid also announced an expansion of the use of private-sector scanners to reduce waits for cancer patients.

He said: 'This week I will be placing adverts for another 80,000 scans per year from the independent sector to supplement the NHS expansion.'

He said that over the next five years, 400,000 more scans would be carried out by 12 mobile MRI scanners.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 5, 2004
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