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28.08.18

More NHS patients waiting longer to hear from test results, new figures show

The number of patients who have to wait longer to hear back from NHS Scotland medical tests is increasing, new figures show.

Latest figures from NHS Scotland indicates that only 78.7% of patients were seen within the six-week waiting window (Treatment Time Guarantee) for one of its eight key diagnostic tests— down by almost 4% compared to this time two years ago.

The six-week window includes critical tests such as MRI and CT scans, colonoscopies, and endoscopies. But with a total of 18,644 people at 30 June waiting longer than six weeks, concerns have been raised about the efficiency and reliability of test results being returned to patients.

Health secretary Jeane Freeman said: “NHS investment and staffing are at historically high levels, and the record high inpatient satisfaction rates published today are a testament to the hard work of our frontline NHS staff.

“Meeting the challenge of improving performance and reducing waits requires the twin approach of investment and reform. That's why we recently allocated an additional £6 million to reduce waiting times for endoscopies, with a focus on the most urgent patients, including those with suspected cancer.”

Gregor McNie from Cancer Research UK also commented: “The NHS in Scotland does not have enough staff to be as effective as possible in diagnosing cancer.

“This situation is deeply concerning, particularly as demand for tests is only going to grow due to an ageing population and efforts to diagnose more people at an early stage.”

Labour health spokesman Anas Sarwar called for greater action: “Performance for key clinical tests simply have to improve— early detection saves lives.

“These standards are in place to ensure that people with potentially serious conditions get the benefit of early detection and have the best possible chance of a full recovery.”

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