Whitewash claims over NHS waiting list figures

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THE Scottish Government is facing claims of a “whitewash” over “fiddled” NHS waiting times after it emerged some hospital staff felt pressurised into removing patients from lists to meet targets.

NHS Tayside apologised after the revelations by some of its staff yesterday in an official investigation into waiting times abuses.

It found that a number of workers spoke of “inappropriate behaviour including pressure” on them to class patients as “unavailable” for treatment so they would be removed from lists.

Health boards across Scotland carried out audits after NHS Lothian was caught fiddling waiting time figures last year to meet an 18-week treatment target.

Although no evidence was uncovered of deliberate or systematic manipulation of the figures in yesterday’s reports, the aftermath of last year’s scandal has seen a dramatic fall in the number of patients removed from lists over “unavailability”, official NHS figures show.

NHS Tayside said it had put controls in place to end the practices which had been identified in a “small area” of waiting time management.

“We can reassure the public that all patients have already been treated or are on the appropriate care pathway and undergoing treatment,” a statement said.

All 14 Scottish health boards had been asked to review their practices in light of the accusations.