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Hospitals exceed government targets

PUBLISHED: 10:53 24 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:49 03 July 2010

PATIENTS in the region benefit from some of the best waiting lists in the country, according to health bosses who have revealed how we are exceeding government targets.

PATIENTS in the region benefit from some of the best waiting lists in the country, according to health bosses who have revealed how we are exceeding government targets.

All NHS organisations across the country are required to ensure 95pc of patients are given hospital treatment or an operation within 18 weeks of a GP referral.

Steve Davies, interim chief operating officer for NHS Norfolk, said the targets for the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King's Lynn, were met in December 2008 and maintained since.

He added: “The government states that we must meet 95pc overall within NHS Norfolk's area we are delivering this for 95.98pc of our patients.

“This covers all NHS patients

in Norfolk wherever they are

treated, including hospitals out of area and within the independent sector.

“For patients this means less time waiting, fewer hospital appointments, earlier relief of symptoms and improved clinical outcomes.”

Health professionals have been battling with waiting times for the past year, with figures showing a marked contrast during the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year.

At the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital last year, 90.7 of patients were seen within 18 weeks and at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital 93.5pc of patients were seen within this time.

Some 96.9pc of patients based under NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney - which includes the James Paget University Hospital - are seen within 18 months.

A spokesman for NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney said: “We have worked extremely hard alongside our partners at James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to achieve these challenging targets, which mean that the patients we serve are now receiving faster treatment than ever before.”

The news comes just days after health secretary Andy Burnham claimed there were no waiting lists in the NHS, but the Liberal Democrats exposed new figures which showed a quarter of a

million people are waiting more

than 18 weeks for treatment in the UK.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, also Lib Dem health spokesman, said the Norfolk hospitals have to be congratulated for achieving these targets.

“They have come through a very difficult time and have to be applauded,” he said. “A few years ago I was getting people contacting me who were waiting up to a year for treatment; it was particularly bad for orthopaedics.

“I hope this good work can be maintained.”

However, while health bosses said they are aiming to maintain the waiting times they also put a plea to patients to ensure they did not miss appointments and to use the services on offer properly.

As reported last week new figures showed that at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital nearly 100 appointments are missed every day, wasting valuable time and money.

The 18 weeks target was introduced in 2004 in the NHS Plan with a delivery programme starting in 2005. It became operational for the NHS from January 1, 2009.

The 18 weeks referral to treatment times statistics are at www.dh.gov.uk

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