More than nine out of 10 patients referred to Northern Devon Health NHS Trust are being seen, having tests and starting treatment within 18 weeks.
The 90% target was passed at the end of March – nine months before the national deadline of December 2008.
In fact most patients have their treatment much more quickly.
The target is for all NHS trusts to make sure at least 90% of patients who are admitted to hospital start their treatment within 18 weeks – 126 days – of being referred.
By the end of March, Northern Devon was seeing 90.9% of patients who needed admission.
Since then, the position has improved further. Figures to the first week of May show 94.9% of patients starting treatment within 18 weeks.
Ben Bradshaw, Minister of State for Health Services, said: “This is wonderful news for the people of Northern Devon. Ten years ago it was not uncommon to wait 18 months or more for treatment, and people died languishing on waiting lists. To meet the 18-week target is a fantastic achievement by local NHS staff and by local and regional management.”
Trust Chief Executive Jac Kelly said: “This is a real improvement for people who are waiting for treatment in Northern Devon. The shorter the wait, the less pain, discomfort and stress people face.
“Our staff have worked really hard, changing the way they do things. That’s meant extra operating sessions, for example, and new technology to iron out delays in the system. But it’s all worthwhile to see these reductions in waiting.”