£5m to clear backlog after policy change

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ALMOST £5 million of taxpayers’ money is being used to tackle the huge waiting lists caused by the controversial practice of removing patients from official figures when they refused treatment in England.

The practice was condemned by Nicola Sturgeon and in response NHS Lothian called a halt to it but as a result, waiting lists shot up.

The health board said today that it was investing £4.8m in cutting waiting times, of which £3m had come from its own coffers. The rest has been provided by the Scottish Government.

Measures being used to cut the backlog have included opening an additional operating theatre at the Western General, opening theatres at evenings and weekends, and treating some patients in the private sector.

The board’s chief operating officer, Jackie Sansbury, said: “The short-term picture is not favourable as we knew in January we had a higher number of people waiting too long but we expect to see this resolved by June 2012.”