SOME of Scotland’s health boards missed a key target for NHS treatment waiting times during the final month of 2014, official figures for the service showed.
Five NHS boards fell below the target that 90 per cent of patients should wait no longer than 18 weeks from referral to treatment, in December last year. The official figures do not include data from NHS Highland but across Scotland 89.2 per cent of patients were reported as being seen within 18 weeks. The figures for October and November were 89.8 per cent and 88.4 per cent respectively.
However, health boards which did not meet the 90 per cent standard in December were NHS Ayrshire and Arran, NHS Fife, NHS Forth Valley, NHS Grampian and NHS Lothian.
Another target for patients needing one of eight key diagnostic tests, such as CT and MRI scans, to wait no longer than six weeks was met in 90.3 per cent of cases as at December.
However, when compared to the position at September 2014 and December 2013, this has decreased from 91.0 per cent and 96.2 per cent respectively.
A 12-week guarantee for patients due for planned inpatient or day treatment was also met for 97.1 per cent of people - a dip from 97.3 per cent on the previous quarter.
Of the 2,342 patients who were not treated within 12 weeks, 45.9 per cent were seen in NHS Lothian.
Health Secretary Shona Robison said that the overall picture showed that NHS boards had delivered key improvements in patient waiting times.
She said: “Health boards across Scotland continue to deliver some of the lowest waiting times on record.
“This performance was maintained as we headed into the challenging winter period last year, but we know we must do more to meet some of the rightly demanding targets we have set. Patients would expect nothing less.
“Today’s figures showing that 97.1% of inpatients and day-case patients were seen within 12 weeks compared to the 85% who were seen within 18 weeks during January to March 2007.
“This included Scotland’s largest health board, NHS Glasgow, which saw 99.9 per cent of patients within the 12-week treatment time guarantee.
“However, much more needs to be done and we are committed to getting the right structures in place to ensure everyone is seen within the target time.
“I have made this clear to all boards and we will continue to work closely with them to help them deliver this.”
Last week, the Scottish Government announced the first allocation from its £31.5 million performance fund to frontline services.
The £10 million allocation is targeted at boards needing extra support to deliver on waiting-times targets including the 12-week patient treatment time guarantee as well as diagnostic and outpatient waiting times.
As part of this, NHS Lothian is to receive up to £3 million and NHS Highland up to £6 million to support the delivery of waiting times.
A Scottish Government-set target that at least 90 per cent of eligible patients should start IVF treatment within 12 months is due for delivery by March this year.
In the final quarter of 2014, initial estimates showed about 80% of patients were screened for IVF treatment within 365 days, compared to 71% in the previous quarter.
Ms Robison added: “Scotland is leading the way in the provision of NHS IVF treatment and by the end of March we are aiming to ensure all patients start treatment within 12 months of referral.
“This target, along with our £12 million investment in IVF provision over the last three years, will mean all patients in Scotland will have access to a more generous and fairer service than elsewhere in UK.”