The Scottish Government have announced that waiting times of more than two years have seen a 20% decrease for both inpatients and outpatients, following confirmation from the latest Public Health Scotland Statistics.
The previous number of outpatients waiting more than two years, in the quarter to the end of June, was 2,633 however that number was reduced to 2,114 for the following period up to the end of September. There was also a 2225 reduction in the number of patients that were having to wait more than two years for inpatient and daycase procedures.
In early July, new targets were introduced to tackle long waiting times, with progress continuing as we approach the end of the year. This progress is backed up by the fact that the quarter up until the end of September saw almost 53,500 patients being treated, the highest number in one quarter since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Humza Yousaf, Scottish Health Secretary, said:
“We recognise the impact long waiting times have on a patient from both a clinical and mental health perspective, which is why we announced ambitious waiting times targets to address the backlog of planned care.
“These figures show NHSS Boards and their staff are working extremely hard, during challenging times, on order to meet these targets and support patients. I cannot thank them enough.
“We have already seen a huge effort to clear the backlog caused by the pandemic and we have seen two year outpatient waits in most specialities cleared. This is real progress on our recovery journey but we must stay focused on these efforts.
“I recognise the picture continues to be extremely tough, particularly as we head into winter, and that’s why our £600 million winter plan will see us recruit 1,000 new NHS staff and our £50 million Unscheduled Care Collaborative looks to reduce pressure on A&E through scheduled urgent appointments, Hospital at Home and directing people to more appropriate care.”
The need to reduce waiting times is all part of the Scottish Government’s plans to bounce back from the damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and they have shown their commitment by backing the NHS Recovery Plan (August 2021) with over £1 billion of funding over five years.