Engagements

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 28th March 2007.

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister 11:30 am, 28th March 2007

Obviously, I cannot comment on the individual case because I do not know about it, but I am happy to look into it. Given that the health service treats 1 million people every 36 hours, I am not suggesting, in any shape or form, that there are not people who do not get the care that they deserve or do not still have to wait too long. However, let me point out that within the hon. Gentleman's strategic health authority there are over 4,000 more nurses, 600 more consultants, 400 more GPs, and 450 more dentists, if I may say. Moreover, there has been a massive investment in the health service that has meant that overall, whereas thousands of people used to wait 12 months, 18 months or more, now virtually no one waits more than six months.

I am happy to look into the individual case that the hon. Gentleman mentions, but the fact is that the whole business of waiting and access to the health service over the past 10 years has been transformed. We need to go further, and we will—by the end of next year, we will have an 18-week maximum waiting time for in-patients and out-patients, including diagnostics, and an average of seven to eight weeks, in effect ending traditional waiting in the national health service. There may still be cases, which are obviously wrong if they exist, where people are waiting too long, but it is surely important to balance that up with the overall picture, which is immensely positive.