Ops wait times are on target

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HOSPITAL chiefs have reassured patients and the public they are exceeding operation waiting time targets while other health trusts warn they will struggle.

A report by a hospital watchdog found 16 foundation trusts forecast they will fail to meet the Government’s 18-week target for non-emergency operations after being referred by their GP.

Financial pressures are being blamed for the risk of longer waiting times.

But North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said it is exceeding the target, and keeps a close eye on waiting times.

Julie Gillon, director of operations and performance for the trust, said: “More than 95 per cent of patients at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust have their procedure or operation within 18 weeks of referral from their GP and this has been the case for over three years.

“Since April we have also met all of the new Government targets related to this area of waiting.

“We monitor our waiting lists very carefully. If it looks like performance is dipping we take steps to put things right straight away.

“We know we are in challenging times financially but, having reached this level, we are not prepared to compromise the very high levels of performance our patients have come to expect.

“We aim to maintain these high levels in the coming months.”

Foundation trusts are NHS trusts that have won independence from central Government control after proving that they can meet required standards of patient care while managing their finances.

Monitor, the independent regulator of NHS foundation trusts, said hospitals are facing their most challenging times because of pressure to save money year on year while improving quality of care.

Dr David Bennett, chairman of Monitor, said: “The challenge of reducing costs must be met, but it is essential that good patient care is at the heart of this.

“This year we have put extra focus on identifying the potential risks to quality that could result from each trust’s plan.”

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