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The Secretary of State for Health (Dr. John Reid): Today I announce the publication of the Department of Health's 2003 Autumn Performance Report (Cm 6073). It shows the progress my Department has made towards achieving its public service agreement targets.
The autumn performance report is an annex to the Chief Executive's Report to the NHS, which has been placed in the Library. Together the two reports demonstrate the progress that we are making in improving health and social care services.
The report shows that more and more NHS operations are being carried out in outpatient clinics and GP surgerieswithout the need for the patient to stay in hospital. The number of procedures carried out in outpatient clinics rose to 1,735,000 last year, an increase of 129,000, or 14.9 per cent.
There are more and more NHS staff, but they are working harder and harder to treat more patients, cut waiting times and provide more operations. The number of doctors has increased by 9,500, or 10 per cent. since the NHS Plan was published, while the number of nurses has gone up by almost 38,000, or 11.5 per cent. since the NHS Plan.
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The number of NHS patients waiting longer than one year for their operation fell from 16,689 in September 2002 to just 114 in September 2003, a fall of 99.3 per cent. The number of people waiting longer than 21 weeks for a first outpatient appointment fell from 30,789 in September 2002 to just 198 in September 2003, a fall of 99 per cent.
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These are just some of the achievements of the NHS in the last year. They has been made possible by the increased funding the government is investing in health and social care, as well as the hard work and dedication of people throughout the NHS and its partner organisations.