Concern over broken pledge on treatment in Lothian

28/08/2017. General View of the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary complex at Little France, Edinburgh.
28/08/2017. General View of the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary complex at Little France, Edinburgh.

An NHS patient waiting time law has been broken more than 27,000 times in the Lothian region since it was introduced, new figures show.

The Treatment Time Guarantee, introduced in 2012, gave patients a legal right to treatment within 12 weeks for conditions such as knee and eye operations.

But the guarantee has been broken 27,400 times in NHS Lothian, including 2,112 occasions in the first three months of 2018. It is the highest quarterly figure recorded by NHS Lothian since the law came into effect.

Kezia Dugdale, the Labour MSP for Edinburgh and the Lothians, said: “Long and unknown waits can have a negative impact on a person’s work, family life, mental and physical wellbeing. With NHS Lothian falling way below A&E waiting times targets and a delayed discharge crisis in our local hospitals, this simply isn’t good enough.

“NHS Lothian urgently needs a cash injection so that our dedicated staff have the resources to care for patients.”

Since the introduction of the 12-week legal waiting time guarantee for treatment, the number of patients waiting more than 12 weeks has increased thirteenfold across Scotland.

In NHS Lothian, the number of patients waiting over the guarantee period has risen by 1,623, compared to the first quarter of 2013 - an increase of 16.9 per cent.

Lothian MSP Miles Briggs, the Conservative health spokesman, said: “This is more evidence of the SNP’s shambolic stewardship of the NHS.

“No-one’s pretending running the health service is easy, but we’ve had several years of decline across several areas and no meaningful explanation.

“Staff, visitors and families are fed up with this mess and exasperated by the SNP’s increasingly pathetic list of excuses.

“The SNP is quickly proving itself to be utterly unfit to run Scotland’s health service.”

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 for their treatment. 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.”