NHS Wiltshire is beating the national average for waiting times, and keeping good control of its finances, according to the Department of Health and the Audit Commission.
Statistics published by the Department of Health showed that in August no patients waited more than 11 weeks for their first outpatient appointment with a consultant. The national target is 13 weeks.
Once they have been referred for inpatient treatment, Wiltshire patients are all waiting less than 18 weeks, the national standard – unless they want to wait longer or their medical condition means they have to wait longer to get fit (by losing weight, for example, or giving up smoking) before surgery.
Not long ago, patients referred for specialist NHS treatment could wait up to 18 months, sometimes in pain, while they made their way to the top of a long waiting list.
NHS Wiltshire attributed the turn-around in waiting times to a combination of increased funding – £4million extra in the last year on sending patients to acute hospitals – and smoother ‘patient pathways’ from referral to treatment.
“Ensuring that Wiltshire patients receive the treatment they receive without delay is one of our highest priorities, so we’re encouraged to see evidence of continuing progress,” said Charlotte Moar, director of finance and deputy chief executive.
Meanwhile, the annual Audit Commission assessment of NHS organisations, released on Thursday 1st October, shows an overall picture of sustained improvement for NHS Wiltshire in 2008/09.
NHS Wiltshire was assessed on its use of resources including areas such as how it manages its finances, how it runs its business and makes decisions and how it manages its staff. In all of these areas, NHS Wiltshire met the required standards.
Charlotte Moar, said, “This year’s Audit Commission assessment is further evidence that NHS Wiltshire is meeting national standards and moving forward. We are not complacent and know that there will be challenges to face in the future. This assessment demonstrates that we are well-placed to meet those challenges, and to continue to improve the quality of services for our patients”.
The Audit Commission report indicates that across England, primary care trusts have generally responded well to a new and more demanding assessment which will form part of a new approach to show how well public services are meeting the needs of communities.
Andy McKeon, Audit Commission managing director of health, said, “These are financially uncertain times and with an expected budgetary squeeze on the horizon it’s reassuring that most NHS trusts and PCTs are managing their money well”.