Edinburgh and Lothian health: Scottish Government accused of failing heart patients as waiting times worsen

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The number of people in Lothian waiting for a key test for heart disease has increased by more than four times as much as in the rest of Scotland.

Analysis by the British Heart Foundation Scotland (BHFS) of figures from NHS Lothian shows that in June 2021 there were 646 people waiting for an echocardiogram - a scan used to check for heart failure and several other serious conditions - but that by June 2023 that had increased by 71 per cent to 1,106. Across Scotland as a whole, the increase was 16 per cent.

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The Scottish Government target time for the test is six weeks. In NHS Lothian, 14.9 per cent had been waiting longer than that. And seven people in NHS Lothian had been waiting more than a year.

And figures for outpatient cardiology appointments showed that in September 2023, 3,085 people in Lothian were waiting for an appointment - more than double the number in September 2021. And 57.9 per cent of them had been waiting for longer than the Scottish Government target time of 12 weeks. Some 98 people had been waiting for over a year.

Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary - picture: Colin HattersleyEdinburgh's Royal Infirmary - picture: Colin Hattersley
Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary - picture: Colin Hattersley | EN license

Lothian Labour MSP Sarah Boyack, who received the figures from BHFS, accused the Scottish Government of failing patients suffering with heart and circulatory disease.

And she highlighted the financial pressures NHS Lothian was under, with the organisation required to make savings of 7 per cent and board papers pointing out that the Scottish Budget provided “no additional resource to cover inflationary costs and other new and emerging cost pressures”.

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Ms Boyack said: “These figures highlight the Scottish Government’s disgraceful failures in regard to heart and circulatory disease patients. It is even more troubling that while the situation is getting worse, the Scottish Government will not provide any additional resource to NHS Lothian.

“This is particularly worrying given Lothian’s population growth. If the Scottish Government does not act urgently, then this situation will continue to spiral into an emergency.

“People suffering heart and circulatory diseases deserve the top notch care our NHS is supposed to deliver. Instead, they are forced to endure unacceptable delays due to the Scottish Government’s lack of investment.

“If the Scottish Government doesn’t deliver additional funding soon, they will be letting down heart condition patients across the Lothians.”

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