ONCE again, concern is raised about whether we can accurately gauge what is going on inside our main hospitals.

Today we report that the National Audit Office has found flaws in Oxford University Hospitals’ record keeping of waiting times, with errors in 37 of 96 patient files it examined.

The Government has a benchmark that 90 per cent of patients who need to be admitted to hospital for consultant-led treatment must be seen within 18 weeks, and 95 per cent for those who do not need to be admitted.

Some of the problems were over how the 18 weeks should be calculated.

The OUHT said there was no suggestion from the auditors there were deliberate errors – ie fiddling the books – and it apologised if errors had been made.

It pointed out the checks were on a small number of cases overall, which might lead some people to take the inference this is not that representative of the true situation.

Surely, though, the hospital would be extremely unfortunate if the auditors just managed to discover all the wrong files in such a limited examination?

The key point is, though, that the Government says the vast majority of patients should be seen within 18 weeks and surely that is not a difficult thing for paid professionals to count accurately.

Last year the hospital twice claimed NHS England was wrong on statistics over its performance and now we have this issue.

We agree wholeheartedly with the National Audit Office’s message – get your systems working.