Scottish health secretary admits: ‘Too many Scots waiting too long in pain’
It came as she unveiled the latest tranche of her Waiting Times guarantee cash - up to £70 million - which will be targeted at carrying out more hip and knee replacements.
The SNP introduced a legally binding 12-week waiting time guarantee for treatment seven years ago - but it has been breached more than 170,000 times, prompting condemnation from political opponents.
Ms Freeman insisted that 1.7 million people have had their in-patient treatment within the 12 week target in a keynote address to the SNP conference in Edinburgh
But she added: “There are still too many people waiting too long for the treatment they need. The challenge to meet this demand isn’t faced across the UK. But in England, they look like they are simply abandoning their targets.
“They give up. We don’t. I have no intention of abandoning those who are waiting too long, in pain and discomfort for the treatment they need.
“So a few months ago I set out how we will use the significant additional resource to tackle this. A plan that systematically brings improvement to ensure our targets are met by the Spring of 2021.
She added: “I am pleased to announce today that this year I will be targeting £70 million of additional investment to carry out more procedures - hip and knee replacements, cataract treatments, an increase in the number of outpatient and diagnostic appointments – and the next steps for our 5 new elective and diagnostic centres, bringing quicker treatment for planned surgery, and taking pressure off emergency care.”
The funding is part of the £850 million Waiting Times Improvement Plan which was first introduced by Ms Freeman last October.