Scotland-wide inquiry into NHS waiting times

NHS Lothian staff suspended up to 5000 patients from the waiting list. Picture: Ian Georgeson
NHS Lothian staff suspended up to 5000 patients from the waiting list. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A NATIONAL inquiry has been announced into the “abuse” of NHS waiting times after a recent scandal which saw the removal of thousands of patients from official lists.

• Up to 5000 patients suspended from waiting list

• Inquiry into waiting time practices to be carried out across Scotland

• Nicola Sturgeon says investigation will ensure “accurate and transparent” waiting time practices

It emerged NHS Lothian staff suspended up to 5,000 patients from the waiting list to hit targets for treating patients within 18 weeks.

Professor James Barbour quit as chief executive of NHS Lothian last week.

Two members of staff have also been suspended.

An inquiry is now to be carried out across Scotland by watchdog Audit Scotland into waiting times.

Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “This is a hugely positive development, and comes in sharp contrast to Nicola Sturgeon’s attempts at Holyrood to block an inquiry into the SNP’s hidden waiting times scandal.

“Scottish Labour has been pressing the government to hold a full, independent, Scotland-wide investigation for months now, but at every turn the SNP seemed desperate to brush our concerns under the carpet.

It emerged that in some cases, patients’ medical records were retrospectively adjusted to falsely show they were unavailable for treatment. In other cases, patients were offered treatment hundreds of miles away at short notice. When they declined, they were struck off from waiting lists.

Labour have voiced concerns over NHS Tayside after figures nationally showed a similar trend to NHS Lothian.

Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said today that the investigation by Audit Scotland will ensure that waiting time practices are “accurate and transparent.”

“The practices that were identified in NHS Lothian are completely unacceptable and we have ensured that they no longer take place,” she added.