Lothians patients face longest waits for drug and alcohol treatment

Patients in Edinburgh and the Lothians face the worst waits for drug and alcohol treatment in Scotland, official figures show.

Alcohol and drug abuse is still a serious health problem in Scotland. Picture: John Devlin

A flagship national target for 90 per cent of patients being seen within three weeks for treatment was missed in the capital and neighbouring East Lothian and Midlothian, it has emerged.

Tory health spokesman Miles Briggs has now written to the public health minister demanding action to address the issue.

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A total of 1,206 patients were seen by Alcohol and Drug partnerships in Lothian in the first three months of this year. Just 79.4 per cent were seen within the target of three weeks from referral, compared to a 90 per cent standard. This is down by 0.2 per cent on the same period last year.

The Lothians MSP said: “It is crucial that patients who need who need treatment for alcohol and drugs get this treatment within the three-week target, rather than having to wait months to get the support that they need.

“There has been no improvement in the number of patients being seen within the three-week waiting target for Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP) in Lothian, despite assurance from SNP ministers. “Waiting times for Alcohol and Drug Partnerships across Lothian are unacceptably long and must improve.

“I have written to the Minister for Public Health to again raise my concerns that people who are in urgent need of treatment for Alcohol and Drugs in Lothian are having to wait so long for treatment.”

West Lothian is the worst performing out of all ADPs, dropping to 59.9 per cent seen within three weeks, for the quarter ended 31 March 2019, compared to the previous figures of 71.4 per cent of patients being seen within three weeks for quarter ended 31 December 2018. Last month it was revealed that the number of hospital admissions in Lothian has been rising over the last decade, with 1,338 hospital admission for drugs in 2017-18, compared to 951 in 2007-8, ten years ago.

Public health minister Joe Fitzpatrick has already pledged to take action to address the issue. Mr FitzPatrick said in a letter to the Tory MSP in January the government’s national Support team has spoken with Midlothian and East Lothian ADPs about their performance.

He added: “An improvement plan has already been implemented which aims to address staffing capacity issues and increase target delivery.”