PERFORMANCE: Buckinghamshire Healthcare Trust has rejected a request from the local primary care trust to extend waiting times for first appointments.

The trust’s February board papers reveal that in November it received a request from NHS Buckinghamshire to extend waiting times for a first outpatient appointment for non-urgent patients to 12 weeks.

The PCT had also written to GPs to this effect but has now decided not to implement the plan.

Buckinghamshire Healthcare chief executive Anne Eden said the trust had “made a commitment to deliver the 18 week target” and therefore she had asked the PCT to “rescind the instruction to GPs”.

The trust’s November board minutes note: “There were major concerns about the effect this action would have on compliance with the 18 week pathway… It would also be difficult to take out any costs in the interim period and clinical risk would need to be understood and managed.”

A spokeswoman for the trust said: “There was some discussion last year about moving to a 12 week wait for most non-urgent first outpatient appointments in Buckinghamshire.

“It was decided that this was not practical and the national average wait for first appointment is now used as a benchmark. We continue to meet the 18 week target from referral until treatment.”

In a letter to managers this week, NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson said there had been “misunderstandings about the government’s intentions in respect of waiting times”.

He said the government was committed to the NHS constitution. “Timeliness of diagnosis and treatment is what patients expect and remains essential to providing high quality care,” he said.