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Chris Ham of The King’s Fund says, “The confirmation of the pledge to keep waiting times low, and the emphasis placed on the 18-week maximum wait for hospital treatment enshrined in the NHS Constitution, leaves the NHS with a very significant challenge. With the spending squeeze beginning to bite, the number of hospital inpatients waiting more than 18 weeks for treatment is already at its highest level for more than three years and waiting times for A&E and diagnostic services have also risen. As the government has said that it is opposed to targets, it now needs to be clear about how this pledge will be measured and enforced.”

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