More than half of people in Scotland who need physio or occupational therapy are waiting too long for an NHS appointment, new figures have revealed.
ISD Scotland statistics have shown just 49.9 per cent of musculoskeletal patients got an appointment within the SNP government’s own target four-week period. In total more than 40,000 patients across Scotland missed out in the quarter to June this year. The target is for 90 per cent of patients to be treated within four weeks.
Further analysis of the data also found that more than one in 10 patients were being forced to wait beyond the 16-week mark for care.
Shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said the SNP government had failed to train and employ enough staff, and had neglected warnings about an ageing population over the course of the last decade in government.
He added that these figures wouldn’t take into account those who can’t wait any longer, and are forced to pay for their own private care.
Musculoskeletal patients include those requiring physio and occupational therapy, as well as podiatry and orthotics for problems of the feet.
In Lothian just one third (33 per cent) of patients met the four week target with 4,944 of 15,024 being treated in the time period.
In Scotland’s largest health board Greater Glasgow and Clyde the figure was 39 per cent with 16,170 of the 41,660 total making the target.
Mr Briggs said: “It’s a complete failure of government from the SNP that thousands of patients a month are waiting too long for physio and occupational therapy. Many of these people will be in significant pain, and are being let down badly.
“It’s bad enough that more than half are missing the target, but in some health boards the picture is even more bleak. These statistics won’t even include those whose pain is so great they can’t wait for the NHS, and are instead forced to go private.
“It should not be a surprise to the SNP that so many people require musculoskeletal help when you consider our ageing and increasing population.
“But it hasn’t planned for this, and now patients and staff right across the country are feeling the consequences.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Every day waiting to see a specialist can cause people with musculoskeletal conditions to have their activity limited and be left in pain. Less than half of patients now start to receive the physio they need within the four week waiting time standard. This holds back their recovery and demands an urgent explanation from the Scottish Government.
“Staff will be flat out to try and see patients as quickly as possible. The Scottish Government needs to listen to them and give them what they need to make this service work properly for patients and staff.”