Patients waiting more than eight months for lifesaving HIV medication

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and MSP for Edinburgh Western Alex Cole-Hamilton has today pressed the Scottish Government to speed up the delivery of PrEP medication as he revealed that patients in the Lothians have waited more than 8 months to receive the medication which can stop you getting HIV. 

A Scottish Liberal Democrat freedom of information request submitted to NHS Lothian has uncovered: 

  • In 2022 patients waited up to 260 days to receive medication; 
  • All patients are now waiting a minimum of 90 days to receive medication, up from just 10 days in previous years; 
  • The average wait time has increased from 71 days in 2021 to 115 days in 2022; 
  • 157 of the 194 patients on the current waiting list are still awaiting an appointment. 

Every other health board claimed to be able to provide appointments within 17 days, with many saying that a prescription could be accessed through walk-in clinics.

The revelation comes as Mr Cole-Hamilton approaches his one-year anniversary as Scottish Liberal Democrat leader. He has made tackling long waits for treatment and offering new hope for NHS patients and staff a cornerstone of his leadership.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: 

“These figures show that people are facing long waits to access PrEP medication here in the Lothians. 

“We know that this medication is of massive benefit and an important step in eliminating the transmission of HIV in Scotland which the government have pledged to do so by 2030

“At the extreme end we could even see an increase in the spread of the disease as a result of this failure to distribute medication fast enough. 

“In 2018, I asked the First Minister why Lothian had the longest waits in the country for PrEP medication and she promised to work with NHS Lothian to deliver the drug quickly.”

“Four years later and not only is NHS Lothian still struggling to meet demand, delivery is now slower. The Scottish Government must ensure that health authorities across the country have the right staff, support and resources to eliminate HIV transmission once and for all.” 

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