Waiting times for operations and treatment have improved over the last year, the health check reveals.

The Healthcare Commission's report shows trusts are well on track to meet the government's flagship target to ensure no patient waits longer than 18 weeks from referral to treatment by the end of 2008.

The commission assessed trusts' performance on key milestones for March this year and found they had met targets on inpatient and outpatient waiting times.

However, more than a quarter failed to meet targets on waits for diagnosis.

The commission said trusts' overall performance on cancer treatment waiting times was very good.

Every trust met goals to ensure suspected cancer patients wait no more than two weeks for an appointment after seeing a GP and one month from diagnosis to treatment.

Trusts continued to do well on accident and emergency waiting times and ambulance responses to life-threatening situations.

Healthcare Commission chief executive Anna Walker said the improvements in waiting times were 'extremely positive'.

'If you look in detail, what has lifted performance has been achieving those waiting times targets and they're issues that really matter to patients - cancer wait times, inpatient and outpatient appointments, A&E, ambulance performance on category A calls and cancelled operations.'

To read more coverage of the health check, click here