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Waiting times at Edinburgh NHS healthcare board under-reported

Emergency waiting times at all the acute hospitals run by NHS Lothian have been under-reported, according to an internal review.

Investigators found that the number of discharges wrongly changed from a breach of targets to a non-breach over the last year had risen from 5.7% to 10.5%.

The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, the Royal Hospital for Sick Children and a unit at the Western General Hospital were among those found to have breached performance reporting guidelines.

Following the revelations, officials at NHS Lothian say they will be re-modelling practices around how waiting times are reported.

The investigation was set up after a whistle blower at St John’s Hospital sent a letter suggesting that staff felt pressured and that numbers of patients waiting longer than four hours were higher than reported.

Scotland’s cabinet secretary for health and sport Shona Robison subsequently requested an internal review by carried out.

Jim Crombie, deputy chief executive at NHS Lothian said the board was looking at the recommendations put forward by the review, with some already in place.

“We also have to do work with our teams across NHS Lothian to help them feel supported and that will feature as a key strand in our development plans,” he continued.

“As soon as we received these initial concerns, an internal audit team was appointed, headed by a senior non-executive director to oversee the investigation. We now have the results and the recommendations from that report and we will develop a plan to ensure effective action is taken.

“NHS Lothian is committed to the values of openness and transparency and we have placed them at the heart of our organisation.”

After the receipt of the interim internal report, Robison requested the Scottish Academy of Medical Royal Colleges carry out an external review, which began last week and is expected to be release in February next year.

In 2012, NHS Lothian had been found to have manipulated waiting times figures, an incident which caused then health secretary Nicola Sturgeon to order an investigation into the management culture at the health board.

Top image: George Clerk

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