The majority of key NHS targets across the whole of the UK have been missed for many years, new research has revealed, with two never having been hit at all.

A review of records going back through the last 20 years looked at key targets covering A&E, cancer and waiting times for planned care.

The three targets were all rolled out during the 2000s and have been used to track performance ever since with each country deciding how they are measured.

Combined, the length of time during which the targets have been missed tops 100 years, BBC News reports.

Glasgow Times: All four nations in the UK said improving waiting times was a priorityAll four nations in the UK said improving waiting times was a priority (Image: PA)

All four nations said improving waiting times was a priority and investment was being made.

When were key NHS targets last hit in the UK?


Key NHS targets in England were last hit on:

  • A&E - July 2015
  • Cancer - December 2015
  • Planned care - February 2016


Key NHS targets in Scotland were last hit on:

  • A&E - July 2020
  • Cancer - December 2012
  • Planned care - June 2014


Key NHS targets in Wales were last hit on:

  • A&E - Never reached
  • Cancer - August 2010
  • Planned care - August 2010

Northern Ireland

Key NHS targets in Northern Ireland were last hit on:

  • A&E - Never reached
  • Cancer - March 2009
  • Planned care - March 2013

King's Fund think tank chief analyst Siva Anandaciva said the findings should "act as a wake-up call" to the NHS.

He described the length of time the targets had been missed as "incredible".

Alongside that, Patients Association chief executive Rachel Power said the analysis showed the NHS was in "permacrisis".

"The health of many deteriorates while they await treatment and their problems become more complex," she said.

"This means they will need more time and resources to treat them when they are finally seen, at great cost to the patient and NHS."

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How have Governments responded?

The Department of Health in Northern Ireland acknowledged the waiting times were "unacceptable" and work was underway to tackle them.

Meanwhile, a Welsh Government spokeswoman said extra money was being invested, adding: "We have placed a clear focus on those patients with an urgent need and who have waited the longest."

A spokeswoman for NHS England said progress was being made, with the numbers facing really long waits falling and signs the NHS was coping better this winter than last.