NHS Lothian to take on 250 staff to reduce waiting times

Tim Davison
Tim Davison
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NHS Lothian is taking on hundreds of extra staff in an attempt to reduce waiting times for patients.

Bosses at the health authority are spending about £10 million tackling the problem after it emerged that it had manipulated waiting times.

The equivalent of 250 full-time workers, including extra doctors, nurses and pharmacists, are expected to be recruited.

The announcement came as Health Secretary Alex Neil chaired NHS Lothian’s annual review.

The extra staff will help the board increase its operating capacity and allow it to provide more post-operative beds for patients.

Tim Davison, chief executive of the board, said: “We are making real progress in reducing the number of people waiting to be treated but I would like to reassure those affected that we will remain attentive and will not become complacent.

“The additional staff we are bringing in will allow us to increase capacity and ensure more people are treated locally and in a timely manner.”

It emerged last October that patients in the NHS Lothian area who refused to travel to England for treatment were removed from the list to be seen within the 18-week target time.

Some people were referred to Northumberland for treatment but when they declined to go, they were marked as “unavailable for social reasons” and not included among patients on a list which had the target time of 18 weeks for treatment.

Figures show that in June, NHS Lothian was one of just two health boards which failed to meet the Scottish Government’s target of treating 90% of patients in this time.

Mr Neil said the health board is “engaged in the largest recovery operation against waiting times ever undertaken by a Scottish NHS board”.

He said: “It’s a tough challenge but new chief executive Tim Davison is absolutely the right man for the job and I am pleased with the significant progress made so far.

“These extra medical staff will make all the difference in the fight to get NHS Lothian back on track.”

As well as recruiting more staff, NHS Lothian is said to have overhauled its practices and procedures, increased the availability of operating theatres and invested in key areas to try to bring down waiting times.

The number of patients waiting longer than the national targets for in-patient or day treatment has reduced from 2,000 in April to just over 1,000 in September, while the number of people waiting for outpatient treatment has also fallen to around 3,500 at the end of September.