Reality Check: Are NHS waiting times shorter?

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On Tuesday, David Cameron said there were now far fewer people waiting more than a year for an operation. He said that in the early days of the coalition, 18,000 people had waited more than a year, but that figure has now dropped to around 400.

Data from NHS England shows that in June 2010, of the 2.5 million people on NHS waiting lists, 18,000 people had indeed waited more than a year for their operation. That number has been falling steadily since the summer of 2011. By January 2015, when there were over 3 million on waiting lists, only 441 people had waited this long.

So the prime minister's claim is correct. However, while the coalition can claim to have reduced long waits, it was under the previous Labour government that we saw the number of people waiting more than a year drop from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands. In August 2007 - the earliest data we have - there were 4.2 million people on waiting lists, more than 575,000 of whom were waiting for more than a year.

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