Patients and health experts have accused the Government of trying to “cover up” the scale of a looming winter health crisis by blocking the publication of key waiting-time figures.
In a controversial move, made as MPs debated authorising bombing raids in Syria, the NHS announced it was dramatically scaling back the number of benchmark tests included in its weekly bulletins – now to be published monthly – which are supposed to give a snapshot of the state of the health service.
NHS England has confirmed that the updates, due to start on 11 December, will no longer include figures on A&E waiting times, ambulance delays outside hospitals or last-minute cancellation of operations. The number of patients left on trolleys for longer than four hours will also be taken off the updates.
The move comes after ministers admitted that the official reporting period for the winter had been shortened by a month – further limiting what the public can find out about growing problems in the NHS.
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