Patients do not wait longer than a year

NO patients in Essex are waiting longer than 12 months for inpatient hospital treatment, health chiefs have announced.Essex Strategic Health Authority, which has praised medical staff for their hard work, also revealed that no-one was waiting longer than 21 weeks for a first outpatient appointment.

NO patients in Essex are waiting longer than 12 months for inpatient hospital treatment, health chiefs have announced.

Essex Strategic Health Authority, which has praised medical staff for their hard work, also revealed that no-one was waiting longer than 21 weeks for a first outpatient appointment.

According to the authority significant inroads have already been made into reducing the number of people waiting between nine and 11 months for inpatient treatment and 13 to 20 weeks for a first outpatient appointment.

Terry Hanafin, authority chief executive, paid tribute to all those who had helped meet what he described as "tough, challenging targets".


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He said: "I am extremely pleased that we have lived up to our promise to patients in our first year as Essex Strategic Health Authority.

"Local people tell us that shorter waiting times are what matters, so this is a good milestone on the way to a maximum of three-month waits for inpatient treatments in the next few years."

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He praised the NHS and primary care trusts and other organisations which had pulled together to ensure Essex achieved its targets for 2002/03.

"In particular the five hospital trusts in Essex have performed very well indeed. During the past year they followed carefully devised plans and took the right action to keep performance on course."

Mr Hanafin believes better community services being developed by primary care trusts and social services have also played their part in the authority's success.

"These services are helping to prevent the need for people to go into hospital in the first place and, for those who do need hospital care, ensuring the speediest possible return home at the end of their medical treatment."

Essex Strategic Health Authority has a localised version of the national NHS plan, which sets out targets and timings of a number of other key challenges. In Essex, many targets are on or ahead of schedule.

The NHS plans states that by March 2004, no-one is to spend more than four hours from arrival to admission, transfer or discharge in a hospital accident and emergency department. Essex aimed for a 90 per cent achievement by March this year and has actually achieved 94 per cent.

One area where Essex has fallen short is in ambulance response times but Mr Hanafin stressed the Essex Ambulance NHS Trust had a plan to get back on target by June.

The health authority is now putting the finishing touches to its new local delivery plan, which will set out the county's goals for the next three years.

Sharon.Asplin@eadt.co.uk

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