HC Deb 08 June 1998 vol 313 c466W
Mr. Letwin

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if it is his policy to establish targets for the average number of months waited by patients; and if he will make a statement. [44716]

Mr. Milburn

No. Our commitment over the lifetime of the Parliament is to reduce National Health Service waiting lists by 100,000 from the record level we inherited. Bringing down waiting lists—and keeping them down—will in turn bring down waiting times.

As a first step, we have achieved our target of eliminating long waits. At the end of March 1998, for the first time in the history of the National Health Service, no English resident has been waiting more than 18 months for treatment.

We are also committed to ensuring that—by the year 2000—everyone with suspected cancer will be able to see a specialist within 2 weeks of urgent practitioner referral. This guarantee will apply from April 1999 for breast cancer.