Sunday 5th September 1993 Sunday Morning 09:05

Mum came in and put the Sunday papers down and a carton of milk.
“I have just seen Caradog outside the chapel, Desmond. He is devastated.”
“It’s a terrible tragedy,” my Dad said. “Moira died last week: the day after her aortic valve replacement.”
“He was very angry. Apparently, the consultant said that the surgery was urgent. Moira still ended up waiting just over 12 months.”
“I know, Daphne. I chased them up several times.”
“It’s ridiculous to have to wait 12 months for urgent heart surgery!” Mum looked annoyed.
“Haven’t they got targets for that sort of thing?” said Declan.
“Targets are part of the problem,” my Dad said. “When I spoke to the consultant, he explained that their number one target was that no one should wait more that 12 months for cardiac surgery.”
“That seems reasonable for routine operations,” said Declan.
“The problem is,” my Dad continued, “that there are no targets for urgent cases. They have got so many patients to deal with that everyone ends up waiting 12 months. If they squeezed in the urgent cases, it would delay all the others. If the hospital breaches their targets, they get fined. With a problem like aortic stenosis, a few extra months can tip the balance. Once the heart muscles are compromised, your chances of surviving major surgery are significantly reduced.”
“Poor Moira,” said Mum as she filled the cafetière.

Haven’t they got targets for that sort of thing?