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Scottish health board blasted for chronic pain waiting times ‘verging on scandalous’

A health board in Scotland has been heavily criticised after managing to see just 6% of patients who visited facilities with chronic pain within the 18-week targeted waiting time.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran was blasted by Scottish Conservative health spokesperson Miles Briggs, who said the figures were “verging on scandalous”.

Only 14 of the 235 patients who had a first appointment with the board between October and December last year were seen by a specialist within 18 weeks, despite boards in other parts of the country faring much better.

“Life can be utterly miserable for someone living with chronic pain,” Briggs said. “To make them wait more than 18 weeks for an appointment is verging on scandalous, and it's hard to see what the excuse for this could be.”

He called Ayrshire and Arran’s efforts “shocking” but went on to further criticise the country’s national average of 72.3%.

In spite of this, there were six boards in Scotland who were able to see 100% of their chronic pain patients within the set period of time – NHS Fife, NHS Borders, NHS Lanarkshire, NHS Orkney, NHS Lothian, and NHS Shetland – while NHS Forth Valley saw more than 90% of its patients.

NHS Ayshire and Arran is estimated to provide services for around 400,000 people and runs 10 hospitals across the regions of North, South and East Ayrshire, a spokesperson for the board told the BBC it “sincerely apologised” to patients who had not been seen within the 18-week target.

The spokesperson explained that there a “number of measures” in place to deal with the issue, including training a new specialist in pain management to alleviate some of the pressure on current staff.

In addition, the board has introduced a new system for booking appointments and implemented a review of clinical templates, which they say has begun to reduce waiting times.

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