Scottish Liberal Democrats today warned patients "can't afford for ministers to be distracted" from the job of NHS recovery after new statistics showed the First Minister's 12-week legal Treatment Time Guarantee has been broken more than 400,000 times.
Public Health Scotland statistics show the law, signed personally by Nicola Sturgeon, has now been broken 402,800 times.
The number of patients waiting over a year has also nearly doubled since Christmas. Despite the legal right to be seen within 12 weeks, the number of people waiting over 52 weeks increased from 15,128 in December to 28,203 in March.
Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP commented:
"Nicola Sturgeon's guarantee was broken 300,000 times before the pandemic struck. Now the number of breaches has surpassed 400,000. Patients are waiting in pain and the law underpinning their rights is in tatters.
"Patients and hardworking staff can't afford for ministers to be distracted from the job of NHS recovery. Catching up on lost treatments and delayed operations is going to need every ounce of their energy and attention.
"We all need to come together to recover from the worst health crisis in 100 years. It will be important to listen to the views of NHS staff as to which service innovations they have pioneered during the pandemic will be essential to rebuild the health service.
"We also need a bigger range of treatment and rehab in local hospitals and to appoint a Patients' Commissioner to stand up for patients in what can be a daunting system."