24 Jul 2012
A waiting list crisis which engulfed Scotland’s second largest health board has now resulted in more than 5000 outpatients waiting longer than 12 weeks for an appointment.
It has also emerged that NHS Lothian has spent £5 million on the problem since it emerged earlier this year.
As recently as October last year, the health board stated no outpatients were waiting longer than three months for an appointment, but that figure has risen steadily since the scandal was revealed.
In addition to the 5000 outpatients waiting longer than 12 weeks, there were nearly 2000 inpatients and day cases who had waited above that time.
NHS Lothian also reported in its board papers that £5 million had been set aside in the past three months to address the problem, with £2 million being spent internally, a further £2 million going to the private sector, with the remainder being paid to other health boards and the Golden Jubilee Hospital in Glasgow to help out.
In March 2010 the Scottish Government introduced a 12-week waiting times target for outpatients, which was met for 99.9 per cent of patients in March 2011, dropping to 95 per cent a year later.
NHS Lothian itself admitted the current situation represents “the largest recovery operation against waiting times ever undertaken by a Scottish NHS board”.
There are also fears that the position could worsen over the next few months once winter takes hold and hospitals experience the seasonal rise in patient activity.
Scottish Conservative health spokesman and deputy leader Jackson Carlaw MSP said:
“Millions are being thrown at this problem yet the figures seem to be getting worse.
“My sympathies lie not only with these patients being forced to wait such a ridiculous length of time for treatment, but also the staff who have been left to clean up this mess.
“Those responsible for this crisis, from the very top of the organisation whether or not they are still in post, have questions to answer on this.
“Too often in the NHS money is channelled to solve a problem, but the lessons are never learned.”
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