A report by ISD Scotland on the 18 weeks referral to treatment (RTT) standard has revealed that Scotland continues to perform below the 90% national standard set in 2011. 11 Boards failed to meet the standard, which can be found on table 1 (pp. 7) of the report (see notes section).

In June 2019, 79.2% of patients across Scotland were reported as being seen within 18 weeks. The figures for April and May were 78.5% and 79.2% respectively.

The 18 weeks standard applies to the whole pathway i.e. from a referral to the point where each patient is treated. The 18weeks RTT performance is dependent on stage of treatment and diagnostics.

ISD Scotland also published inpatient, day case and new outpatient stage of treatment. 72.5% of inpatients and day cases were treated within the 12 week standard in quarter ending 30 June 2019. This compares with 68.6% during quarter ending 31 March 2019 and 74.5% during quarter ending 30 June 2018.

Dr Sue Pound, Vice-President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said:

This report shows that just over 20% of patients did not receive important treatment within 18 weeks of referral, and that 11 NHS Boards did not meet the national standard.

This means that Scotland unfortunately continues to perform under the 90% standard for treatment, which has been the case since 2014. Waiting for treatment can be a particularly stressful time for patients. We must work together to help improve the treatment pathway for patients across Scotland.

Medical staff - including doctors across the Scottish NHS - are working hard to deliver the quality treatment standard for patients, but they do require further support. The best way that The Scottish Government can do this is to propose a workforce plan that gives medical staff the time to innovate as well as treat, teach, and research. This should be done along with innovation in designing and implementing new models of care. In the longer term, a further increase in medical school places will help.

As a Royal College representing thousands of doctors across Scotland and the UK, we regularly feed their views on such matters to The Scottish Government.

Paul Gillen

Contact: Paul Gillen p.gillen@rcpe.ac.uk 0131 247 3658