Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Jim Hume MSP has today called for urgent action from the Scottish Government as new data reveals last year 100,000 patients were admitted for hospital treatment outwith their local area.
The data, highlighted as part of a response to a parliamentary question posed by Mr Hume, reveals there have been year-on-year increases in the number of patients referred outwith their health board area since the flagship Treatment Time Guarantee was introduced.
Over a quarter of the patients referred last year were from the NHS Lanarkshire health board area.
Commenting, Mr Hume said:
“It is frankly shocking that over 100,000 patients in Scotland were referred for hospital treatment outwith their area last year.
“There are a number of reasons why patients may be referred to other parts of Scotland for treatment. But in general, patients should be able to attend hospital appointments as close to their homes as possible – the difficulty of travelling further afield is not only inconvenient but can also aggravate the very health conditions they are being referred for.
“Reimbursing patients’ travel costs also puts substantial strain on the already under-funded National Health Service in Scotland and is a waste of money if treatment is already available locally.
“As we approach winter the Scottish Government must act now to support health boards and their staff and ensure key services are being provided locally.”