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GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

Waiting time cuts met with disbelief

GPs have reacted with scepticism to new figures showing sharp cuts in waiting lists for diagnostic tests.

Department of Health statistics show the number of patients waiting 13 or more weeks for echocardiography plummeted from 22,379 this January to 10,458 in July.

Similarly, the number of patients waiting over the 13-week marker for DEXA scans dropped from 9,356 to 5,695, and for colonoscopy from 20,197 to 13,615 over the six months.

But GPs questioned whether the figures were merely cosmetic improvements following the department's decision to begin assessing hospitals against the 13-week marker in January.

Dr Gerald Partridge, a GP in Keighley, West Yorkshire, who runs an echocardiography clinic, said the falls were difficult to believe. 'There's not been a huge investment or output of trained echocardiographers to account for the decrease,' he said.

Dr Jonathan Bayly, associate lecturer in osteoporosis at the University of Derby, also questioned the figures. '£20 million was made available for improving access to DEXA scans – but only £3 million has made it to health authorities and I can't believe that would have made that much difference.'

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