Letter: Waiting lists fall

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Your report on waiting lists ("Anger as Labour's promises go up in smoke," 6 December) confused in-patient and out-patient figures. We are well on the way to meeting our election pledge to reduce in-patient waiting lists by 100,000. The latest figures show a fall of 79,000 since the general election.

As waiting lists fall, so waiting times will also fall. The latest figures show that the number of patients waiting for in-patient treatment fell by 5,100 in October alone, while on average patients are waiting more than two weeks less for in-patient appointments than they were 18 months ago.

As waiting lists are coming down, we can now up the pace of modernisation in the NHS, especially in tackling our country's biggest killers - coronary heart disease and cancer. Ours is a 10-year programme to build the 21st-century health service we promised in our manifesto - fast, fair and convenient for patients.

ALAN MILBURN

Secretary of State for Health

London SW1

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