HEALTH chiefs in South Cheshire have blasted a Government report which wrongly branded the area a blackspot for waiting lists.
A National Audit Office report showed South Cheshire had the second highest proportion of patients waiting for surgery in the North West. It was a serious blunder which was only revealed after the report was made public.
South Cheshire is actually second best in the region for inpatient waiting times, and sixth best for outpatient delays. And it is placed in the top half of all Britain's health authorities.
Neil Large, finance director at South Cheshire Health Authority, said: 'It is disappointing because the report is critical of the NHS for a lack of complete reliability in systems and procedures, yet their report itself is inaccurate.
'A simple mistake can be damaging, and doesn't do credit to staff who work so hard.
'I have no problem with reports which provide a benchmark of performance for us to learn from, but we have to be confident in the results and the basis of their findings.'
South Cheshire had a 4% better performance than the targets set for both inpatient and outpatient waiting lists.
In contrast, North Cheshire Health Authority fared worst in the region waiting times, with 28.6 people per thousand having to wait more than 13 weeks.
The report criticised the Government's efforts to cut NHS waiting lists for distorting the order in which patients are treated.
More than 50% of consultants in England said they had been forced to treat less-urgent cases at the expense of more seriously-ill people, in a bid to meet tough government targets.
A spokesman for the National Audit Office said: 'Owing to a production error some of the waiting list figures for the North West region were stated incorrectly in our report.
'The NAO apologises that its rigorous procedures for checking reports broke down on this occasion.'