The government's latest monthly figures show that the number of people waiting for diagnosis for more than six weeks at the end of March was 12,900 compared to 243,000 in March 2007 and 404,000 in April 2006.
The DoH is hopeful that this fall in waiting times for tests will mean that the NHS will meet the 18 week target from referral to treatment by the end of the year.
Care Services minister Ivan Lewis said: 'The successful reduction in assessment waiting times means that patients are able to move through the diagnostic pathway much quicker…however, treatment times remain higher than is acceptable and this will be monitored for the first time from April 2008 with the introduction of the whole pathway 'referral to treatment' data'.
The average expected wait for NHS diagnostics tests is now 2.5 weeks down from 6.8 weeks two years ago. There are 15 key diagnostics tests included in the waiting time data including magnetic resonance imaging, audiology assessments, cystoscopy and echocardiography.