18 week waiting times
Referral to treatment (RTT) is the period of time a patient waits to start non-emergency NHS consultant-led treatment. The maximum length of time from ‘referral to treatment’ is 18 weeks, unless a patient chooses to wait longer or it is clinically appropriate to do so.
This year, the 18 week RTT waiting times standards were amended by NHS England to remove the requirement to ensure 90% patients are treated or discharged within 18 weeks as an inpatient (admitted) and 95% of patients are treated or discharged within 18 weeks as an outpatient (non-admitted). The remaining standard is to ensure that 92% of patients on our waiting list for non-emergency (elective) care wait less than 18 weeks (the incomplete standard).
We have consistently achieved this standard over the past few years. During 2015/16 this has occasionally been affected by:
- the rise in demand across our elective specialties at above the 2015/16 plan in key areas such as restorative dentistry, ENT and Spines.
- the volume of ED and acute admissions across our hospitals towards the end of the year that significantly affected routine surgical throughput
- the continued impact of delayed transfers of care, delayed repatriations and reduced locality step down bed availability which significantly reduced our elective capacity
We have developed plans to ensure we continue to meet the Incomplete 18-week RTT standard in 2016/17.