Commenting on the NHS diagnostic list figures released by the government today (July 12), The King's Fund chief executive Niall Dickson said:
'These figures show how big the task will be to meet the government's target of reducing the total wait from GP referral to treatment to 18 weeks by the end of 2008.
'Whilst the average diagnostic wait is low at seven weeks, we are worried that one in eight patients still has to wait over six months for tests. We are also concerned that there are significant variations in waiting times for different types of tests across the country.
'However, we do welcome the transparency these figures bring as, together with waiting times for outpatients and inpatients, they give a clearer picture of how long patients are actually waiting for treatment.'
'These new figures show that meeting the 18-week target is likely to require significant investment not only in diagnostic equipment, but crucially in laboratory and other staff too.'
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