Opposition parties on attack over ‘missed NHS waiting times’

NHS Scotland figures show a number of  key targets are being missed  and the gap is widening. Picture: PA
NHS Scotland figures show a number of key targets are being missed  and the gap is widening. Picture: PA
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Opposition parties have accused the Scottish Government of failing to manage the NHS properly after new figures revealed a number of key waiting time targets have been missed.

NHS Scotland health statistics show a target to treat 90 per cent of patients within 18 weeks was not met in the final quarter of 2016 and a legal obligation for patients’ treatment to start within 12 weeks of it being agreed by a specialist was also missed.

The proportion of people waiting longer than 12 weeks for an outpatient appointment or a key diagnostic test was also up in December.

The Scottish Conservatives said ministers must explain the “disastrous slump” in waiting times while Scottish Labour described yesterday as “a day of shame for the SNP”.

Waiting times statistics published yesterday show that in December 2016, 83.8 per cent of people waited less than 18 weeks for treatment from the point they were referred by their doctor.

That was down from 84.7 per cent in September 2016 and 87.1 per cent in December 2015.

Figures also show that during the quarter from October to December last year, 86.7 per cent of patients were seen within the 12-week treatment time guarantee, down from 89 per cent the previous quarter and from 95.3 per cent during the final quarter of 2015.

Meanwhile, 75.8 per cent of patients waiting for a new outpatient appointment at 31 December had been waiting 12 weeks or less, down from 79.2 per cent at 30 September and 87.6 per cent at 31 December 2015. A total of 86.1 per cent of patients waiting for a key diagnostic test at 31 December had been waiting less than six weeks. This compares to 90.1 per cent at 30 September and 93.2 per cent at 31 December 2015.

Figures for accident and emergency attendances in the week ending 19 February show 92.9 per cent of people were seen and subsequently admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours, missing the 95 per cent target.

Conservative shadow health secretary Donald Cameron said: “This is all on the SNP’s watch, and it has to explain the disastrous slump in these crucial waiting times, given it’s been running the NHS for almost a decade.

“The Scottish public are getting increasingly sick of an SNP which, almost on a daily basis, is found wanting on the day job as it obsesses about the constitution.”

Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson, Anas Sarwar, said: “This is a day of shame for the SNP and their callous mismanagement of our health service. The SNP is sleepwalking into an NHS crisis and is in complete denial about its negligence of our most valued public service.

“The NHS crisis in England shows you can’t trust the Tories with the NHS, but it is shameful that the SNP uses that as an excuse to spin away its failures.”

Health secretary Shona Robison said: “We’re investing substantially in social care and community care, with a view to keeping people healthy at home for as long as possible.

“This will, in time, help prevent the need for many people to go to hospital.”