Primary care trust cuts waiting times

PUBLISHED: 16:00 15 May 2008 | UPDATED: 21:49 15 June 2010

Devon Primary Care Trust has exceeded a national target that aims to ensure patients wait no longer than 18 weeks from diagnosis to treatment.

Devon Primary Care Trust has exceeded a national target that aims to ensure patients wait no longer than 18 weeks from diagnosis to treatment.

The PCT has been working closely with GPs and hospitals to achieve early implementation of target.

By March of this year Devon PCT had already surpassed the national target of 85 per cent, with over 90 per cent of patients having been seen and treated within 18 weeks. Where patients didn't require an admission to hospital this figure was over 95 per cent. Both these achievements are well in advance of the December 2008 deadline. This represents a major improvement for patients who are able to be seen far more quickly for a broad range of medical conditions.

In turn it is hoped that these shorter waiting times will mean patients will no longer feel the anxiety experienced in the past caused by long and sometimes painful waits for treatment.

Patients who used to wait sometimes six months for an MRI scan can now look forward to be seen in six weeks. Audiology is another area where we have made big strides. In the past it was quite common for patients to wait over a year to get their first appointment. Now they are guaranteed one within six weeks and in most cases hearing aids are fitted within three months of referral. Yet just two years ago it could easily have taken two years for the same process.

Rebecca Harriott, Deputy Chief Executive of Devon PCT, said that the PCT was delighted by the improvement in patient experience that delivering this target early means. "Removing delays in treatment is one of the top priorities that patients consistently report to us. We have made excellent progress but have more work to do. Firstly in reducing the wait from referral to treatment still further, and by reducing waiting times for services not covered by this target. We have agreed a maximum waiting time of 15 weeks from referral to treatment this year. We are also discussing ways to further reduce this, and importantly to ensure that it is delivered across all specialties, including for example, orthopaedics where we know that some patients still experience long waits."

Ben Bradshaw MP, Minister for Health added his praise for Devon PCT's early implementation of the 18 weeks' target:

"This is wonderful news for the people of Devon and the surrounding area. Ten

years ago it was not uncommon to wait 18 months or more for treatment and

people died languishing on waiting lists. To meet the 18-week target is a

fantastic achievement by local NHS staff and local and regional management.

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