Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP today described new statistics showing hundreds of patients in need of chronic pain treatment waiting longer than the 18-week treatment target as "shocking".
The ISD Scotland figures show just 72.3% of patients in need of chronic pain treatment were seen within the treatment target between October and December 2017. This means that 725 people seen in the last quarter had to wait more than 18 weeks, while a further 670 people still on the list have already waited longer than the target time.
The worst performance was recorded in NHS Grampian, where 542 patients waited, or are still waiting, longer than 18 weeks to be seen.
Commenting, Mr Cole-Hamilton said:
“The SNP Government continues to fail chronic pain patients. It’s shocking that so many patients are waiting longer than the 18 weeks promised to receive the pain treatment they urgently need.
“In some areas just a fraction of patients are being seen within the agreed time frame. This is leaving hundreds of people in pain and uncertainty and the SNP Government is letting them down.
“The Health Secretary owes NHS patients and staff an explanation as to how she plans to ensure health boards are adequately resourced and staffed going forward. We need to know when precisely the Scottish Government expects this waiting time target to be met."
North East MSP Mike Rumbles added:
“What these figures demonstrate is the serious inconsistency in waiting times in health boards across Scotland. This is a direct result of years of under-funding. NHS Grampian has been the worst funded health board in Scotland since 2008 and there has been a shortfall of £165.6 million over that period.
“Waiting months on end for treatment when you are in chronic pain must seem like an eternity and it’s disappointing to learn that people who rely on NHS Grampian are once again forced to wait longer than others.
“The Minister must now turn her attention to sorting the funding mechanism as a matter of urgency.”