The Times has an interesting article today suggesting that the government now realizes that its plan to have all patients treated within 18 weeks is unachievable.
Their answer, apparently, is to fiddle the books by preventing patients actually getting on to waiting lists. Another triumph for Nu Labour.
This is the start of the article:
Drastic cost-cutting ordered by the Government across the NHS has derailed its flagship policy to ensure that no patient waits longer than 18 weeks for hospital treatment.
A leaked e-mail seen by The Times reveals that the Department of Health is so worried that new data showing that some patients will have to wait “in excess of one year” will be highlighted by the media that it has issued special guidance on how to spin the news.
The Government is expected to announce today that the NHS has made a surplus of more than £500 million in the past financial year after an aggressive drive to reduce spending by health trusts.
The e-mail says that more than half of patients are still waiting longer than 18 weeks for treatment. It calls into question the Government’s ability to honour its key health pledge that all patients would be treated within this time by the end of 2008.