SNP's waiting time law broken 100,000 times since 2012

The SNP's flagship waiting time law has been broken more than 100,000 times since it was introduced in 2012, according to new analysis from Scottish Labour.

The SNP's flagship waiting time law has been broken more than 100,000 times. Picture: John Devlin
The SNP's flagship waiting time law has been broken more than 100,000 times. Picture: John Devlin

In 2012 the Scottish Government introduced the Treatment Time Guarantee, which gave patients a legal right to treatment within 12 weeks for conditions such as knee and eye operations.

The guarantee which was established from The Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011, states that eligible patients must start to receive treatment within 84 days of it being agreed.

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This target was enshrined in law by then health secretary Nicola Sturgeon in March 2012.

However, figures released by Scottish Labour show that 118,004 people have waited more than 12 weeks for inpatient or day case admission since the Patient Rights Act came into force.

Labour released the analysis ahead of a Holyrood vote today in which the party will seek a commitment that patients are given accurate waiting time estimates form their health board.

The party’s health spokesperson Anas Sarwar said: “In 2012 the SNP made a promise to the people of Scotland that they would have a legal right to treatment within 12 weeks. That law has now been broken over 100,000 times.

“Patients deserve transparency when it comes to their treatment. Long and unknown waits can have a negative impact on a person’s work, family life, mental and physical wellbeing.

“NHS boards should communicate an accurate expected waiting time to patients. This upfront approach will at least provide transparency and comfort to patients rather keep them in the dark.”

NHS Lothian were the worst offenders with 25,288 people waiting over the required time for treatment - almost 10,000 more than NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde who saw 15,841 patients have their legal right breached.

Jacquie Campbell, Chief Officer of Acute Services, NHS Lothian, said: “In line with other NHS boards across Scotland we are seeing increasing demands on our services. We treat patients in order of clinical priority and length of wait and tell patients as soon as possible when delays are identified.”

Shadow health secreatary Miles Briggs, said the missed targets were a “direct result of SNP Ministers mismanagement of our NHS workforce”.

He added: “It is completely unacceptable that the 12 week referral to treatment has been broken for over 100,000 patients.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said: “The First Minister gave a legally binding guarantee that people would receive treatment within 12 weeks but it has hardly been worth the paper it was written on.”

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “Over the last year, we have made an additional £50 million available to NHS boards, to reduce waiting times for all stages of a patient’s journey and particularly for inpatients who have been experiencing waits above the 12 week treatment time guarantee, and this is helping to reduce waiting times.

“We have also provided £4 million funding for new and innovative initiatives that cut waiting times and improve the way planned care services are managed.

“This year the front-line health budget will increase by over £400 million to £13.1 billion.”