‘NHS must now move swiftly to rebuild trust’

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The news that NHS Lothian has been manipulating waiting times figures to meet government targets is appalling. The independent report by PwC makes clear that patients were simply treated as statistics by some employees.

However, for many who regularly access hospital services in the Lothians this report will not be a shock.

The true waiting list in many areas has been lengthening and anecdotal evidence from our readers has, for some time, suggested that tightening budget cuts are having an impact on front-line services.

The introduction of waiting time guarantees by the Scottish Government has been a good thing. They give patients a realistic guide to treatment times and have helped ensure that people are moved through the system more swiftly.

But the bedrock of such a system has to be transparency.

A waiting time guarantee means nothing if under-pressure staff are able to find exclusions. The result is a public which is not served and a system which is discredited.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon and senior officials at NHS Lothian must now move swiftly to rebuild public trust in the process. A Scotland-wide audit of waiting times in 2012-13 should be welcomed.

But thousands of patients currently on waiting lists in Edinburgh and the Lothians will now rightly be asking whether they are being treated fairly.

If there are genuine reasons for individual patients to be excluded from guarantees they should be told this immediately and told why.

Many will use this sobering and damning report for political gain and to demand resignations. But the important thing is whether patients are being treated quickly and fairly. That is what we should all be focusing on.

Easy squeezy

we can be a pretty reserved bunch here in Edinburgh, even – some unkind souls might say – a little stand-offish.

So perhaps the plans we report on today for an Edinburgh Cuddle Group which will encourage members to be more tactile might be just what we need.

We all feel better when we feel loved and set about the challenges of our day with more gusto.

Imagine what a difference a great big bear hug could make to some of our under-pressure sporting heroes, for instance.

Might Leigh Griffiths score even more goals for Hibs or the Hearts squad find new inspiration in their push towards Europe?

It’s got to be worth a go.