Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health
Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt says the NHS will be hitting its waiting time targets by the end of the year Reuters

A £250m investment that will go towards reducing the waiting lists for hospitals has been announced by the UK health secretary.

Speaking in Surrey, Jeremy Hunt said that the health department would plough a further £250m (€314m, $421m) into the NHS to carry out more than 100,000 treatments for people who had been on a waiting list for over 18 weeks.

The government has set itself a target of treating 90% of inpatients and 95% of outpatients within the five month period of referral.

Hunt said that at first, this goal may not be attainable, "however, by the end of the year the NHS will start meeting the target again," he said.

The announcement comes shortly after it was revealed that there were more than three million people on the NHS waiting list in June – the highest number on record in six years.

Hunt also said that the NHS will investigate each individual case where a patient has been on the waiting list for almost, or more than, a year.

"It will make treating these waits a priority unless there are strong clinical reasons for the wait or the patient chooses to wait for longer," he added.

Since the coalition came to power, the number of people who had been waiting for treatment has been dramatically reduced.

In May 2010, there were 18,458 people who were on a 52-week-plus waiting list, but in May 2014, this number had fallen to just 574.

Hunt said: "This is a result of the government changing targets in 2012 to stop a perverse incentive that led to hospitals prioritising shorter waiters."