Health service waiting times on increase

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NHS waiting times are rising again after the Government scrapped the 18-week target for treatment, new figures reveal.

Thousands more people are waiting longer than 18 weeks for hospital treatment from the time of referral by their GP.

The Department of Health scrapped central monitoring of 18 weeks in June but said patients would not expect to return to long waiting times.

NHS trusts no longer have to prove they are treating patients within 18 weeks.

An analysis of figures by Pulse magazine shows 45,000 patients missed out on treatment within 18 weeks during September, up 15 per cent from 39,000 in July.

Some 12.6 per cent of patients needing orthopaedic or trauma treatment and 10.6 per cent needing oral surgery waited more than 18 weeks.

Chaand Nagpaul, from the British Medical Association's GP committee, said trusts were already taking advantage of the fact the target had gone.

"We're getting reports of trusts delaying treatment so they can address financial problems."