The Department of Health (DoH) announced that NHS waiting lists had fallen by a record 47,000 in March this year, reaching the lowest figure since September 1996.
The figure is now down to 1,073,000.
The DoH said that the number of people awaiting NHS treatment for over 12 months had fallen for the ninth consecutive month and is now 46,800.
The DoH also declared that, at the end of March, not one patient was waiting for more than 18 months.
“When we make promises, we keep them. Last year I promised that by April 1999, waiting lists would be below the level the government inherited in May 1997,” said Frank Dobson, secretary of state for health.
“The staff of the NHS have not only delivered that promise. They have done more than promised. Waiting lists are now 85,000 lower that the total we inherited. Waiting lists are now lower than at any time for almost three years.”
Dobson added that he believed this latest development put the government well on track to meet its Manifesto pledges.
He said: “This is an absolutely phenomenal achievement by NHS staff. It means we remain firmly on course to get waiting lists down to 100,000 below the figure we inherited.”