Chronic pain conditions receive just 0.05% of the NHS Scotland’s £535 million fund to reduce waiting times, new figures reveal.
Just £27,000 of the Waiting Times Improvement Plan funding is being put towards chronic pain conditions despite some patients waiting two years for appointments, the Health Secretary has admitted.
Scottish Labour, who obtained the figure in a parliamentary question answered by Health Secretary Jeane Freeman, described the amount spent in 2018-19 as “baffling”.
The party’s health spokeswoman Monica Lennon called for a review of waiting times for chronic pain patients, arguing that 800,000 people across Scotland are suffering from missed targets.
Ms Lennon said: “The target for chronic pain waiting times has never been met since it was introduced, with over a third of patients having to wait longer than four months to be seen for an initial appointment.
“So it’s completely baffling that such a small amount - less than half a percent - of the £535 million fund to improve waiting times is being spent on chronic pain.
“The thousands of Scots who are waiting, in pain, for months on end surely deserve better than this.
“The Health Secretary clearly needs to get a grip on chronic pain waiting times and provide answers about why more money is not being spent to improve them.
“That’s why Scottish Labour has been consistently calling for a review of what’s going wrong, because, after 12 years of SNP government, it’s simply unacceptable that chronic pain waiting times are showing no signs of improvement.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said:
“It is wrong to suggest tackling conditions like hip and knee replacements, shoulder and other surgery is not effective in dealing with chronic pain.
“We announced an additional £70 million for the Waiting Times Improvement Plan, from the total of £850 million over three years which we have committed to increase capacity and reduce waiting times.
“Living with chronic pain can be incredibly difficult for sufferers and we are determined to improve services for all those affected.
“There are areas in Scotland where everyone referred to a pain clinic for their first treatment appointment is seen within the 18 week standard. However, we know that in some areas there is a need for improvement and we will continue to work with relevant NHS boards to improve performance.
“Scotland is the only part of the UK to routinely publish this data, which is a clear sign of our commitment to making improvements for people living with chronic pain. The Scottish Government has also funded essential work at the University of Dundee to improve the breadth, consistency and quality of chronic pain data available. This work will help to develop the necessary high-quality data required to drive improvements to services and reduce waiting times.”