The SNP’s flagship waiting time law has been broken over 100,000 times since it was introduced in 2012.
Scottish Labour has released figures showing that NHS Lothian was by far the worst offender with 25,288 patients waiting outwith the Treatment Time Guarantee, which gives patients a legal right to treatment within 12 weeks for conditions such as knee and eye operations.
The guarantee which was established from The Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011 states that eligible patients must start to receive treatment within 84 days of it being agreed.
This target was enshrined in law by then health secretary Nicola Sturgeon in March 2012.
However, figures released by Scottish Labour show that 118,004 people have waited over 12 weeks for inpatient or day case admission since the Patient Rights Act came into force.
Labour has released this analysis ahead of a Holyrood vote today where the party will seek a commitment that patients are given accurate waiting time estimates from their health board.
Labour health spokesperson Anas Sarwar said: “In 2012 the SNP made a promise to the people of Scotland that they would have a legal right to treatment within 12 weeks. That law has now been broken over 100,000 times.
“Patients deserve transparency when it comes to their treatment. Long and unknown waits can have a negative impact on a person’s work, family life, mental and physical wellbeing. NHS boards should communicate an accurate expected waiting time to patients. This upfront approach will at least provide transparency and comfort to patients rather than keep them in the dark.”
NHS Lothian saw 25,288 people waiting over the required time for treatment – almost 10,000 more than NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde who had 15,841 with their legal right breached.
Jacquie Campbell, Chief Officer of Acute Services, NHS Lothian, said: “We are committed to providing swift, effective patient-centred care and I would like to apologise to any patient who is waiting longer than expected. Monitoring and measuring waiting times help highlight where there are delays in our system and in line with other NHS boards across Scotland we are seeing increasing demands on our services. We treat patients in order of clinical priority and length of wait and tell patients as soon as possible when delays are identified.”
According to the Scottish Government website the Patient Rights Act aims to “improve patients’ experiences of using health services and to support people to become more involved in their health and health care”.
Shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said the missed targets were a “direct result of SNP ministers’ mismanagement of our NHS workforce”.
He added: “It is completely unacceptable that the 12 week referral to treatment has been broken for over 100,000 patients.”
Scottish Lib Dems health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said: “The First Minister gave a legally binding guarantee that people would receive treatment within 12 weeks but it has hardly been worth the paper it was written on.”