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More patients face 18-week wait

More NHS patients are now only receiving treatment after a period of 18 weeks or longer, new research indicates.

Only 1.8% of outpatients within the health service had to wait longer than this in May 2010. However, the figure went up to 2.3% in the same period of this year.

A similar trend was seen among the country's inpatients, with the number of people waiting longer than 18 weeks increasing from 7.1% to 9.2%.

According to the NHS Constitution, 18 weeks is the maximum amount of time patients should be required to wait for treatment of a condition.

Among the other trends highlighted in the research, the statistics show that the quarter to May 2011 saw around 100,000 more diagnostic tests take place compared with the same period of last year.

Discussing the waiting time situation, NHS chiefs stated that "the percentages fluctuate but remain low".

Copyright © Press Association 2011