Orthopaedic patients wait more than a year for treatment

Nine patients in one of Scotland’s largest health boards have waited more than a year for an orthopaedic appointment, according to Scottish Labour.
By law, inpatients should be treated within 12 weeks.By law, inpatients should be treated within 12 weeks.
By law, inpatients should be treated within 12 weeks.

A further 500 people have endured a wait of 100 days or more for an inpatient procedure – such as knee and hip operations – in NHS Lothian.

The statistics were revealed in a letter from the health board to Scottish Labour MSP, Neil Findlay, this month.

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Under the SNP’s flagship waiting time law, inpatients should be treated within 12 weeks. However, Labour analysis of the Scottish Government’s figures showed the Treatment Time Guarantee had been broken on more than 170,000 occasions.

Findlay said the SNP’s promise to treat patients in 12 weeks is “not worth the paper it was written on”. He added: “Hundreds of patients across the Lothians have been left to endure long waits for orthopaedic procedures – 500 have had to wait over 100 days with others waiting more than a year. This is not acceptable. Our NHS staff are being starved of the resources they need to give patients the care they deserve.”

Scottish Conservatives health spokesman Miles Briggs highlighted a perceived shortfall in funding of £365.7 million for NHS Lothian over the past 11 years.

He accused the Scottish Government of “continual underfunding” and criticised the NHS Scotland Resource Allocation Committee formula used by SNP ministers to allocate funding to each health board.

Briggs says this is a factor in the length of waiting times across the Lothians.

He added: “These figures are deeply concerning, showing that orthopaedic waiting times are getting longer, with waiting of up to 45 weeks in May last year to now being over 52 weeks. Last year 186 operations had to be cancelled due to a lack of sterile equipment, which will have increased waiting times in NHS Lothian.

“Orthopaedic waiting times are nowhere near the Scottish Government’s 12 weeks target and patients, many of whom are in excruciating pain, are having to wait months on end for an operation.

“This is not just a one-off example, with many patients having to wait an exceptionally long time, in severe pain, for an operation.

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“SNP Ministers are constantly saying that waiting times are improving and more is being done to improve them, but in reality they are actually getting worse and it is patients who are suffering.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said “Since the introduction of our treatment time guarantee, over 1.6 million patients have been treated within the 12 week target. However, we recognise that people are waiting too long, which is why the Health Secretary Jeane Freeman published our £850 million Waiting Times Improvement Plan in October last year.

“The Waiting Times Improvement Plan will help increase capacity, clinical effectiveness and efficiency, and implement new models of care, while also substantially, sustainably and progressively improving waiting times by spring 2021. We will continue to work with boards to ensure the additional funding available delivers the substantial and sustainable improvements needed.”