Life support

Waiting list figures show Scottish NHS is on ‘resuscitation’

SCOTLAND’S NHS is on life support, Labor has said after new figures revealed more than half a million people were on the waiting list.

According to the latest figures from Public Health Scotland, there were 421,561 outpatients – those requiring minor diagnostic tests such as X-rays, blood tests and ultrasounds – and 131,620 inpatients – those requiring at least one overnight stay – waiting for treatment.

The 553,181, or about one in 10 people in the population, rose by 15,000 at the end of last year and is the highest since the statistics were recorded in their current form about a decade ago.

The inpatient waiting list was 36.8% higher than average at the end of the 2019 quarters. While the outpatient waiting list was 70.9% higher.

There has also been a sharp increase in the number of patients waiting more than two years for treatment.

The number of outpatients waiting longer than 104 weeks fell from 0.2% to 0.7%, an increase from 1,824 to 2,831.

While the increase in the proportion of hospitalized patients waiting longer than 104 weeks rose from 4.3% to 8.1%, up from 5,459 to 10,613.

This is despite the Scottish Government’s legally binding Treatment Time Guarantee, which states that eligible patients to receive scheduled inpatient or day treatment must receive that treatment within 12 weeks.

Of those waiting outpatients, only 49.6 per cent had been seen within the 12 guaranteed treatment times, which Public Health Scotland says is “significantly down from the average reported in 2019” as the figure equivalent was 73.5%.

Only 34% of hospitalized patients had waited 12 weeks or less, down from the average of 68.7% reported in 2019.

The report states that this growth in wait times reflects the fact that “the number of referrals each month often exceeded the number of patients removed from lists, either because they were admitted for treatment or because they were withdrawn for other reasons”.

A total of 45,998 patients were admitted to hospital for treatment in the first three months of this year, up 3.6% from the previous three months, but still 34.8% below the number total treated before the Covid pandemic.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has been ordered to “finally show leadership and get this growing backlog under control”.

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane said: “It’s amazing that more than half a million patients are still waiting for treatment and that figure is just heading in the wrong direction. ”

The GP added: “As we emerge from the pandemic, Humza Yousaf must finally show leadership and get this burgeoning backlog under control.

“He has to accept that his flimsy NHS recovery plan released over nine months ago is simply not up to the task.”

Scottish Labor Health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said the SNP was sitting on its hands.

Ms Baillie said: “NHS staff are working tirelessly to keep things afloat, but they are being badly stranded by an absent government.

“Our NHS is on life support and it is patients and hardworking staff who are paying the price. We cannot afford to waste any more time when lives are at stake.”

Liberal Democrat Leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said the 12-week treatment time guarantee gave patients “false hope”.

He said: ‘The long waits facing patients are worse than ever and the backlog of people needing treatment is growing rapidly. Many sectors are emerging from the shadow of the pandemic, but that’s a different story for NHS staff who are working tirelessly to stabilize the health service.

“These appalling figures show why ministers’ attentions must be squarely on the NHS. This is further proof that the SNP/Green Government was wrong to reject my calls for an urgent new burnout prevention strategy to protect staff. They are taken for granted.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said more than 2.5 million inpatients and day cases have benefited from the 12-week treatment target since its introduction.

They said: “The suspension of non-emergency activities during the pandemic has inevitably led to a backlog of numbers awaiting processing, and the emergence of Omicron and the BA.2 subvariant in late 2021 has undoubtedly added to this. the existing significant pressure.

“It is unfortunate that we cannot mobilize on the scope and scale we all wish to see, but we must balance competing demands and pressures, making the best decisions possible, none of which are easy or easy. taken lightly.These are problems seen in healthcare systems across the UK.

The spokesperson explained how a framework had been published “which provides NHS boards with key principles to support the prioritization of their elective care waiting lists during the Covid-19 pandemic”.

They continued: “We published an NHS recovery plan in August 2021, setting out our health and social plans for the next five years.

“Backed by over £1 billion in funding, the plan will support increased inpatient, outpatient and outpatient activity to address care backlogs, which will be supported by the implementation of sustainable improvements and new models of care.

“Implementation of the plan is a top priority.”


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