Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has today set out proposals to overhaul the Scottish Government’s Treatment Time Guarantee which has been broken more than 400,000 times since its introduction in 2012.
Under Scottish Liberal Democrat proposals, the SNP’s current worthless Treatment Time Guarantee that care will start within twelve weeks will be amended to also tell patients the reality of the average and longest waiting times in their area for the procedure they are awaiting.
The law, introduced on the signature of Nicola Sturgeon as Health Secretary, has been broken 439,599 times, including 300,000 times pre-pandemic.
Alongside this new transparency standard, Alex Cole-Hamilton is calling for:
- The 2019 Charter of Patient Rights, setting out what they are entitled to when using NHS services, to be updated to reflect the changes brought about by the pandemic and the long waits for treatment.
- The appointment of a Patients’ Commissioner with the power to advocate for all patients in a daunting system, and help shape and direct their complaints.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said:
“My first mission as the new leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats has been to set out a stance that is radical, credible and offers new hope to the people of Scotland.
“Over the past few months I have set out proposals for tackling burnout among NHS staff, boosting the pay and status of care staff and ensuring that proper workforce planning takes place to guarantee we have enough staff in the future.
“Now I want to set out what patients should be able to expect from the health service.
“It’s clear that as we emerge from the Omicron wave, one of the most pressing priorities must be cutting waiting times.
“A decade ago, the SNP committed that patients’ treatment must start within a maximum of 12 weeks. This guarantee has never been worth the paper it has written on. It’s an act of fraud that the SNP have committed on the people of Scotland.
“We should be moving heaven and earth to cut waiting times to 12 weeks for everyone but the reality is that is nowhere near happening.
“I believe that governments should treat people like grown-ups. That’s why rather than delivering letters which tell patients that their treatment should start within twelve weeks, the government should also include the average and longest waiting times in your area for your procedure. People deserve to know the reality.
“Alongside a new Patients’ Commissioner with the teeth to ensure rights are upheld and patients can navigate a daunting system, this would be a small step towards a system that empowers patients and allows them to plan properly and make healthcare decisions that are right for them.”