Health: More than 1 million waiting for NHS hospital treatment

Click to follow
The NHS waiting list for hospital treatment has risen to 1,096,000 patients - the highest figure recorded, according to the latest figures released by the Government. There was a rise of 3.2 per cent in the total number of patients waiting at the end of 1996, and 123 patients were waiting for more than 18 months, in breach of Patients' Charter guarantees.

The provisional figures for the last quarter of 1996 were condemned last night by the Shadow Secretary of State for Health, Chris Smith, as evidence that the reforms to the NHS were not working.

"These are the highest waiting lists ever recorded. More patients across the country are waiting longer for an operation as a direct result of the Tories' changes to the NHS," said Mr Smith.

But Gerry Malone, the Health Minister, defended the Government's record, insisting that the reforms had slashed the numbers waiting for more than a year from 200,000 cases.

The total for those waiting more than one year rose by 46 per cent - an increase of 6,900 to a total 21,900.