The more that we learn about the way waiting times have been recorded in our hospitals the more questions it throws up.
At first we were told that official waiting list procedures had not been followed in the emergency department at St John’s Hospital. Now it turns out that similar ‘dodgy’ practices have been taking place at all the acute hospitals serving the Lothians.
It is only five years since the then Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon ordered in PricewaterhouseCoopers to uncover widespread manipulation of waiting lists and a terrible culture of bullying within NHS Lothian. There are uncomfortable parallels with what is emerging now, with a whistleblower alleging staff have been pressured into underreporting waiting time problems.
Is the underreporting limited to these four departments or are there further problems still to be uncovered? Who approved these alternative counting procedures and how far up the management chain did knowledge of them go? These are the questions that today’s Health Secretary Shona Robison will surely want answered in the report she is awaiting on what is undoubtedly a fresh crisis for the already underpressure NHS.