Figures from ISD indicate that almost a third of inpatients and day cases have missed the waiting time target with 68.4% of patients being seen within 12 weeks. In addition, 77 percent of patients have been seen within the 18 week referral to treatment standard, down from 79.5 percent at the end of last year.

Commenting, Professor Derek Bell, College President said:

On treatment waiting times standards, there remains work to be done to achieve The Scottish Government’s targets. In particular, we note that the percentage of inpatients being seen within the 12 week treatment time guarantee fell from 75.6% to 68.4%. Waiting for treatment can be a particularly stressful time for patients.

Doctors across the Scottish NHS are working hard to deliver the quality treatment standard for patients. However, medical staff require more support if they are going to have a realistic chance of matching treatment times targets. 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. A further increase in medical school places will help in the longer term, particularly for rural and remote students, who are more likely to work locally once they qualify. This is important as remote and rural areas often struggle to recruit medical staff more than urban areas.  As a Royal College representing the views of thousands of doctors across the UK, we are keen to feed into this process and do so regularly.

On waiting times targets more generally, we think that they are a useful barometer of how the Scottish NHS if performing. We do not advocate a move towards scrapping performance targets like in England, where the UK Government are trialling a new system which would take NHS England away from 4-hour A&E targets.

Paul Gillen

Contact: Paul Gillen 0131 247 3658