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New drive to reduce waiting times

8th May 2007

A new champion has been announced to help provide patient input in reducing NHS waiting times.

Neil Betteridge, chief executive of Arthritis Care, will become the patient and public champion. He will help the government to reach its 2008 waiting times goal by working closely with local level NHS, patients and other stakeholders.

The announcement comes at the NHS releases figures showing continued reductions in waiting times. The NHS is currently on track to offer patients no more than an 18-week wait from referral to the starting treatment, by the end of 2008.

Andy Burnham, health minister, said: "Our commitment to improving the NHS means that by 2008 all patients will be assured of faster treatment.

"I'm delighted to appoint Neil Betteridge as patient champion for this important policy. He has an outstanding track record of speaking up for patients and his appointment underlines how we want the NHS transformed into a truly patient-led service".

Mr Betteridge said: "As the NHS changes, it is crucial that patients are right at the heart of any improvements. My role will be to keep the target focused on people."