NHS Lothian waiting lists: Thousands of patients removed from waiting lists branded 'embarrassment' amid calls for inquiry

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Thousands of patients were removed from planned care wait lists in the wake of the pandemic.

Thousands of ‘vulnerable’ patients were removed from NHS waiting lists in the Lothians, damning figures have revealed.

Some 4,500 people were taken off planned care waiting lists in the wake of the Covid pandemic, according to information obtained by a freedom of information request.

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Lothians MSP Miles Briggs blasted the figures and has called for an inquiry. The Scottish Conservatives MSP said that those already facing a three-year wait would be forced to rejoin waiting lists and wait up to six years for treatment.

Lothians MSP Miles Briggs has called for an inquiryLothians MSP Miles Briggs has called for an inquiry
Lothians MSP Miles Briggs has called for an inquiry

He told the Evening News many people had reported frustrations over waiting ‘longer than ever’ for a number of treatments. It’s claimed GPs are now telling people they’d be better off going private, due to the worsening waiting times. Bosses at NHS Lothian said they have requested a detailed review of wait lists and a report to their board.

Mr Briggs said: “The news that 4,500 people received letters from NHS Lothian informing them that they had been removed from waiting lists is at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic is nothing short of staggering.

“For many, what was already a three year wait has now doubled and caused immeasurable harm and distress. That NHS bosses deemed this necessary is yet another damning indictment of the Scottish Government’s abject failure to run Scotland’s health system efficiently and sensibly.

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“I have written to the Health Secretary to demand answers on this issue and am asking for a full inquiry into why thousands of vulnerable people were removed from waiting lists and forced to start again. The SNP-Green government needs to get a grip on the health system in Lothian and across Scotland as it is fast becoming an embarrassment.”

In a letter responding to a call from Mr Briggs for a full inquiry, health secretary Michael Matheson said the patients removed from waiting lists were part of an acceleration of ‘high impact programmes that focus on opportunities to maximise current capacity, create capacity and manage demand generated out with and within secondary care.’

It comes as separate figures also revealed that at the time, in NHS Lothian, record number of NHS staff were off sick with mental health related absences.

NHS Lothian saw 13,397 staff members call in sick over the last five years, with the number reaching a peak in 2021 when 3,106 staff were absent due to mental health issues.

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Michelle Carr, chief officer of acute services at NHS Lothian, said: “NHS Lothian follows national guidance in relation to waiting times management.

“An immediate internal review of waiting lists was carried out and has not raised any specific concerns. We have also asked for a further detailed review to be carried out to confirm those initial findings and a formal report from this work will be examined and discussed by the Board of NHS Lothian. Extensive work continues at a local and national level to reduce waiting times for treatment and access to orthopaedic services.”

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