A HOSPITAL trust recently out of special measures has managed to hit key waiting time targets for the first time in three years.

The NHS records how many patients are still waiting for treatment and the end of each month to see if hospitals are up to scratch.

Health bosses say 92 per cent of people should be treated within 18 weeks of being referred by a GP or specialist, but the current national average is below par at 90.3 per cent.

In December 2013 Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust was really underperforming, with over 1,000 patients waiting more than a year for treatment.

The King George and Queen’s Hospital managers had to agree an action plan with NHS Improvement and in February 2014 they launched a full investigation.

After a near two-year “recovery” period of working with local GPs and clinical commissioners, in December 2016 BHRUT started recording monthly referral to treatment (RTT) data again.

Six months later June’s figures showed the trust has finally hit national waiting time targets, with 92.2 per cent of patients getting treatment within 18 weeks.

At the beginning of last year 54,000 patients were on the waiting list across the two hospitals – now there are 34,000.

BHRUT’s chief operating officer Sarah Tedford said the improvements were a “fantastic milestone achievement” for staff at King George and Queen’s.

She said: “The situation we found ourselves in at the beginning of 2014 was unacceptable, so we have been tackling this issue as a top priority.

“I would also like to thank key partners, particularly our CCGs and our local GPs, as well as our patients, for their understanding and patience. This has been a really successful example of how strong partnerships can deliver fantastic results.

“We know we will have to continue to keep working hard. We continue to see significant demand, so we will keep doing our best to maintain the high standards we’ve been setting.”

The promising results come just a few months after the trust was taken out of special measures by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Meanwhile, health campaigners are still fighting against a Government decision to close King George's A&E department and downgrade it to an "urgent care centre".

NHS Improvement’s executive regional managing director for London Steve Russell congratulated BHRUT on the reduction in waiting times.

He added: “This has been the result of a huge effort from all staff alongside local GPs and commissioners. Patients will now benefit from being seen within the national waiting time standards after many years.

“This is an important achievement and is another major milestone for the trust and is testament to the hard work of their staff.”