Waiting times no shorter, NHS board admits

Bosses at a crisis-hit NHS board have conceded the number of people waiting for outpatient appointments is not falling.

The number of people in NHS Lothian waiting more than 12 weeks for a clinic appointment increased at the end of last month to 5,177. A report to be discussed at a meeting of the health board today also revealed that “management information suggests outpatient waits will be under increasing pressure over the coming months”.

Concerns were raised last year about NHS Lothian’s manipulation of waiting times in order to meet targets.

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It emerged in October that patients were referred to Northumberland for treatment. When they declined to go, they were marked as “unavailable for social reasons” and not included among patients on a list that had the target time of 18 weeks.

This prompted an independent investigation which found bullying was common at certain levels within NHS Lothian.

The report to be discussed today said although the recent focus was on the inpatient and daycase waiting list, “those waiting to be seen as outpatients were also affected”.