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NHS Lothian has defended itself against accusations it has “doctored” its waiting lists.

The health board offered surgery in Harrogate and Northumberland to some patients, but when they declined, they were then not included on a list of patients waiting more than the target 18 weeks for treatment. This allows NHS Lothian to hit Government targets but means patients left waiting longer for treatment go undetected.

Ultimately, however, the patients will go back on the waiting list and be treated in Scotland.

NHS Lothian insisted the policy was “standard practice” in Scotland, but declined to reveal exactly how many patients had been offered treatment in England and Wales.

• SIXTEEN people were evacuated from flats in Piershill Square East after fire broke out in a second-floor-flat.

A 50-year-old woman was treated by paramedics at the scene for smoke inhalation after escaping from the blaze, which started in the flat’s living room.

Two people had to be rescued by firefighters after the fire broke out at around 11.40pm on Saturday. The fire service also said that a cat had died in the fire.

• POLICE are hunting a man who robbed Ladbrokes in Home Street, Tollcross, of a “four-figure sum” around 9.45pm on Saturday.

The man, who is described as white, in his 30s and about 5ft 6in, entered the shop and demanded money from staff.

He had light brown/ginger hair and what were described as distinctive facial features – possibly freckles or acne scars. He was wearing a black hooded, waist-length waterproof jacket, blue jeans and white trainers, and spoke with a Scottish accent.

Police are appealing for anyone who may have have seen the robber to contact them on 0131-311 3131.

• ARTHUR’S Seat has been named one of the top ten hills in the UK to bike down by cycle star Sir Chris Hoy.

The Olympic gold medalist headed up a panel of judges choosing their top ten, who said they couldn’t rank them because they were so different.

Arthur’s Seat and Rest and Be Thankful were the only Scottish entries on the list.

The list was compiled as part of Sky Ride 2011, a campaign to get a million people cycling regularly by 2013.

Sir Chris said: “It’s a great feeling when you reach the top of a hill and get to ride down the other side of it. By finding the UK’s top 10 hills to cycle down, I hope the British public will get back on their bikes and re-live that feeling.”