I entirely appreciate the distress long waiting times can cause. Reducing waiting times has been a key objective for the NHS and significant progress has been made towards achieving that goal over the past five years. Last year, the NHS in England carried out 11.6 million operations, which equates to 1.9 million more than in 2009/10. In addition, the NHS carried out 20.2 million diagnostic tests; 5.9 million more than eight years ago.
Under the NHS Constitution you have the right to access certain services within maximum waiting times and this is determined according to a patient's clinical need. Patients with urgent conditions will be able to be seen and receive treatment more quickly. I believe that timely access to services is a critical part of our experience of care, the NHS should be there for people when they need it.
It is a huge source of concern that the emergency department waiting time target at Stepping Hill is one of the poorest performing in Greater Manchester. Indeed, in November 2017, less than 72% of people attending A&E were seen within four hours or less, compared to the national average of over 85%. I have therefore written to Helen Thompson, the Interim Chief Executive of Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, to ask her to outline her plans to improve the waiting times of Stepping Hill.