St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been praised by the minister of state for public health for exceeding a government target to reduce patient waits – nine months ahead of deadline.

The Trust is one of just 35 in England and one of six in the London area to have already met a Department of Health (DH) target set for December 2008 to have 95 per cent of non-admitted (outpatients) and 90 per cent of admitted patients (inpatients and daycase patients) receive treatment within 18 weeks of referral.

This means that patients from across south west London coming to St George’s are now waiting less time for first appointments and tests, and getting treatment faster, reducing anxiety and improving care.

On May 29, the DH published figures showing that in March this year just over 97 per cent of St George’s non-admitted patients (outpatients) had received treatment within 18 weeks from referral. Just over 93 per cent of admitted patients (inpatients and daycase patients) were within the same timeframe.

This surpassed a milestone set for March but also exceeded the target set for December for referral-to-treatment times, making St George’s one of the first hospitals nationally to achieve it.

Minister of state for public health, Dawn Primarolo, said: “This is wonderful news for the people of south west London. Ten years ago, it was not uncommon to wait 18 months or more for treatment. To meet the 18-week target is a fantastic achievement by local NHS staff and local and regional management”.

The 18-week referral to treatment pathway is about improving patients’ experience of hospital care and reducing unnecessary delay. It applies to patient pathways involving consultant-led care and sets a maximum time of 18 weeks from referral up to the start of any treatment necessary.

Meeting the 18-week target has involved the Trust reducing waits for outpatient appointments, diagnostic testing and inpatient procedures and eliminating any unnecessary delays between these stages. For example, to meet the 18-week target a patient coming to St George’s for surgery needs to see a consultant within four weeks of referral, have all diagnostic tests completed within a further four weeks, and have a date set for an operation within 10 weeks after that. Staff members, both clinical and non-clinical, from across the hospital have been involved in making this possible.

St George’s director of operations Marie Grant said: “This is excellent news and a real cause for celebration; our patients deserve nothing less. Meeting this target ahead of time is a tremendous achievement by our staff and, along with our good results in the Healthcare Commission’s patient survey, shows their commitment to putting the patient first.

She added: “Many of our patients receive treatment in less time than 18 weeks and will continue to do so, but for other patients this represents an improvement in waiting times and I am proud of the many staff members who have planned and worked to achieve this goal.”

Notes to editors

  • For more information, please contact contact the Communications Unit on 020 8725 5151 or Outside working hours, please page us by calling 07699 119700, leaving a short message and contact details for pager SG548.
  • The figure for non-admitted patients has been adjusted by the Department of Health to exclude incomplete data and differs slightly from previous figure for non-admitted patients released by St George’s last month.