Waiting target missed thousands of times at NHS Lothian in spring

In 2012, the Scottish Government introduced the treatment time guarantee, which gave patients a legal right to treatment within 12 weeks for conditions such as knee and eye operations. Picture: contributed
In 2012, the Scottish Government introduced the treatment time guarantee, which gave patients a legal right to treatment within 12 weeks for conditions such as knee and eye operations. Picture: contributed
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New figures show the Scottish Government’s flagship waiting time targets were missed thousands of times in NHS Lothian this spring alone.

The figures, from analysis by Scottish Labour, also show outpatient targets being missed a further 14,582 times between April and June.

These figures reveal a waiting list crisis in NHS Lothian and nowhere is that clearer than in paediatric operations ... [this] mess cannot continue.

NEIL FINDLAY Scottish Labour MSP

In 2012, the Scottish Government introduced the treatment time guarantee, which gave 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 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.

Figures released under Freedom on Information legislation reveal more than 3,000 people waited longer than 12 weeks for trauma and orthopaedic surgery, 45 per cent of paediatric surgery cases took more than 12 weeks and 1,895 people waited more than 12 weeks for ear, nose and throat outpatient appointments.

Labour said the figures on paediatrics were particularly bad given the ongoing closure of the children’s ward to out-of-hours patients at St John’s Hospital in Livingston.

Scottish Labour MSP Neil Findlay said: “These figures reveal a waiting list crisis in NHS Lothian and nowhere is that clearer than in paediatric operations.

“In 2012 the SNP gave patients a legal right to treatment within 12 weeks, but since then successive ministers have presided over a growing staffing crisis in our health service.

“That has led to services being cut back – like at the children’s ward at St John’s.

“This disgraceful mess cannot continue.”

NHS Lothian deputy chief executive Jim Crombie, apologised to patients who were waiting longer than they should.

He said: “We know that any delay in diagnosis or treatment can be worrying for patients and we aim to provide effective and timely care at all times.

“We are working hard and are committed to increasing capacity to minimise waiting times for our patients across our services. The priority for our staff is to make sure all patients are treated safely and given the highest quality, effective care. We aim to treat patients in order of clinical priority and length of wait and tell patients as soon as possible when delays are identified.

“We are working closely with Scottish Government colleagues to develop robust and sustainable plans to deliver compliance with agreed waiting times.

“NHS Lothian has already been successful in seeking approval to move to a business case to develop a purpose-built Short Stay Elective Centre at St John’s Hospital and an initial agreement has been finalised for a new Eye Hospital located close to the Royal Infirmary on the growing Edinburgh BioQuarter campus.

“These plans, when approved fully, will provide significant additional capacity to allow NHS Lothian to delivery on these important access delivery standards.”