Treatment waiting times
In 2010, the NHS Constitution was updated to include a patient right, stating that people with a referral from a GP should start their treatment within 18 weeks. This was initially introduced as three national targets in 2008. Since June 2015, the target that at least 92% of people should spend less than 18 weeks waiting for treatment has been the sole measure of waiting time performance.
Once there has been a decision from a consultant that a patient needs treatment, and they have been referred to a hospital, they are on the waiting list and the clock starts on their treatment waiting time. Their treatment pathway, or time on the waiting list, can end in one of two ways:
- 'Admitted': if a patient is admitted to hospital for treatment, the pathway clock stops once they have been admitted either as a day case or inpatient.
- 'Non-admitted': if a patient receives treatment that does not require an admission or is not treated, the clock stops when they receive treatment or when there is a decision that no treatment is needed.
Data for 'incomplete pathways' show patients who have been referred but have not yet started their treatment. These data give an indication of the number of people on the waiting list for treatment each month.
Since October 2015, there is no provision to report pauses or suspensions in RTT waiting time clocks in monthly RTT returns to NHS England under any circumstances.
For further guidance on referral to treatment waiting times, please see the NHS England website