ALMOST 30% of patients waiting for hospital tests to diagnose diseases in Cheshire and Merseyside have to wait more than three months, figures reveal.
A Government report shows the region was 2.5% behind the national average for waiting times.
And of the 44,375 waiting for tests, 3,680 have been on the list for more than six months.
One of the worst affected areas was peripheral neurophysiology - nerve disorders - which saw 970 of the 1,778 patients waiting for more than 26 weeks to have illnesses diagnosed.
Around 1,000 patients waiting for a gastroscopy, which examines the stomach and gullet, had to wait three months and 515 double that.
And almost half of patients waiting for audiology tests have to wait 13 weeks with 1,237 waiting for 26 weeks.
A spokesman for NHS North West, formed by the merger of the North West's strategic health authorities at the start of this month, said: 'We welcome information released which highlights perform -ance for diagnostics.
'Reductions in diagnostic waiting times are part of a wider programme to achieve an overall 18-week wait for all planned care treatments by December 2008. We are aware of the need to improve performance.
'Our next milestone is to achieve a 13-week target for all diagnostic procedures by March, 2007. We expect that this will be achieved.'
The Department of Health has published waiting times for the 15 tests for the first time.
Nationally, the average wait for a non-emergency patient is seven and a half weeks for an MRI scan and two-and-a-half weeks for a CT scan.