Waiting times for diagnostic tests such as MRI and CT scans have been published for the first time by the Department of Health.
The transparency in waiting times is part of the government's attempts to achieve an 18-week maximum wait from GP to treatment, including all diagnostic tests, by 2008.
According to the statistics for the 15 of the most common diagnostic tests carried out by the NHS, the average waiting time for any of the tests is seven weeks, while three quarters of the tests are carried out by 13 weeks – the maximum waiting time the NHS is hoping to achieve by April 2007.
The average wait for non-emergency patients for MRI and CT scans are seven and a half and two and a half weeks respectively.
Health minister Andy Burnham said that the government had "eradicated long waiting times that patients have historically had to face".
"The NHS is at last identifying and tackling these waiting lists. By revealing them, we have also identified the progress that NHS staff have already made in reducing waiting times for the 630 million tests they carry out every year," he said.
Professor Janet Husband, president of the Royal College of Radiologists, said: "Although these data indicate that there are still lengthy waits for some diagnostic tests, it is gratifying to see that some progress has been made.
"We will continue to work with the Department of Health to ensure a well-planned service for patients, in which patient management is efficient, effective and appropriate."
The publication of the waiting times comes ahead of a meeting held today between the prime minister Tony Blair and NHS representatives to discuss his goal of cutting the maximum waiting time for hospital treatment by 2008.