NHS waiting times

  • NHS waiting-time targets scrapped by Andrew Lansley – The Guardian, 21 Jun 2010
  • NHS waiting times force coalition U-turn on targets – The Guardian, 17 Nov 2011

Two months after coming to power, health secretary Andrew Lansley scrapped two key NHS waiting time targets.

He said:

“I want to free the NHS from bureaucracy, and targets that have no clinical justification, and move to an NHS which measures its performance on patient outcomes.”

Following a rise in waiting times, however, the government have been forced to u-turn on their opposition to targets, as the Guardian reports:

The government has been forced to abandon its opposition to NHS waiting time targets and introduce a new rule to halt the growing number of patients not being treated within the promised 18 weeks.

The u-turn is a surprise because the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, had previously criticised waiting times measures introduced by Labour to speed up patient care as “arbitrary Whitehall targets”.

But fresh evidence that waiting times are creeping up, despite David Cameron’s pledge to keep them low, has forced Lansley to change tack and impose an extra treatment directive on the NHS. He had previously castigated targets as unnecessary, likely to distort NHS staff’s clinical priorities and part of a bureaucratic “top-down” system he intended to overhaul.

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