The National Health Service is well on the way to meeting the maximum 18-week GP referral to treatment target set by the government for the end of next year, as the latest figures from the Department of Health reveal that 76% of patients are now treated within this time frame.

The data for August show that three out of every four patients who do not need to be admitted to hospital are being treated within 18 weeks from being referred by their GP.
Furthermore, updated figures for those needing hospital treatment have also shown an improvement, rising to 56% treated within 18 weeks from 48% in March.

Commenting on the findings, Health Minister Ben Bradshaw said: “Ten years ago it was common for people to wait 18 months for an operation. Since then, the NHS has come a long way and it is making good progress towards effectively ending waiting next year.”

“With millions of patients in the system at any one time, it is encouraging that the majority of patients are already being seen within 18 weeks. Some places are making progress faster than others, but I'm confident that by the end of 2008, patients can expect to start their treatment within a maximum of 18 weeks from GP referral to treatment,” he added.