Magazine article Public Finance

Waiting Lists Grow as PCTs Try to Cut Deficits

Magazine article Public Finance

Waiting Lists Grow as PCTs Try to Cut Deficits

Article excerpt

Patients in some parts of England face longer waits for routine surgery as primary care trusts claw back deficits in the final three months of the financial year.

The news that some PCTs have introduced minimum waiting times for elective surgery will come as a blow to the government, which wants the NHS to treat all non-urgent patients within 18 weeks of referral by their GP by the end of 2008.

From this month the Department of Health will measure referral to treatment times, but managers privately warned the situation could get worse in the short term.

According to the DoH, 35% of patients who need to be admitted to hospital are treated within 18 weeks. Much of the delays have been attributed to bottlenecks as patients waited for diagnostic tests, but the need to balance the books this year has forced some PCTs to introduce further delays in the form of minimum surgical waiting times.

North Yorkshire and York PCT, for example, has forecast a deficit of £35m this year and introduced a 12-week minimum wait for planned surgery as part of its recovery plan. Similar measures have reportedly been introduced in Suffolk and Hertfordshire - keeping surgery on hold until the new financial year. …

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