‘Why end one report just to start another?’

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THE latest twist in the NHS Lothian waiting-list saga has descended into farce.

To cut a long story short, health chiefs here are in hot water with Holyrood for taking patients off the official waiting figures when they had declined the offer of treatment in England.

No problem with offering them the option of an operation holiday, but they should not have disappeared from the waiting list when they declined.

An audit was ordered to determine the scale of the problem, fair enough. NHS Lothian instructed an outside firm – PriceWaterhouseCoopers – to undertake the work on its behalf, also fair enough on the face of it.

Now the Scottish Government has decided that despite there being no question over PWC’s independence, the work should be immediately halted . . . for it to instruct PWC again.

“Appropriate corporate governance” is the problem, apparently. What taxpayers are left with is presumably a bigger bill and delay.

Quite why this is necessary is anyone’s guess but at best it has been a monumental breakdown in communication and at worst demonstrates a worrying nosedive in the relationship between NHS Lothian and Holyrood.

Board chairman Dr Charles Winstanley has told the government of NHS Lothian’s “disappointment” at the situation – about as animated as such communication gets.

None of this, however, matters to patients. All they care about is being seen by a medical professional as swiftly and as efficiently as possible.

If the fact the Scottish Government is now instructing the audit helps to ensure that and get to the root of any problems which PWC wouldn’t have done otherwise then it has to be a good thing. But we must ask why this wasn’t just done from the very beginning?

Those waiting for an end to this saga may be waiting some time.

United in tragedy

The tragedy of the death of Michelle Stephen and her five-year-old son Leon has touched everyone in the Capital.

Such events inevitably leave many unanswered questions, some of which will forever remain a mystery.

But they can also bring out the best in a community as friends and neighours rally round to help in any way they can.

Sighthill has experienced its fair share of troubles over the years, but it is a strong community, united in grief today. Our thoughts are with them all.