Scotland

NHS Scotland waiting time target missed

Surgery Image copyright Thinkstock

There has been a further decline in the number of NHS patients who begin treatment 18 weeks after referral, figures have shown.

Figures up to the 31 December 2016 show 83.8% of patients started treatment within 18 weeks - a fall from 87.1% in December 2015.

The Scottish government's waiting time target is for 90% of patients to start treatment within that timeframe.

Opposition parties have criticised the government for the missed targets.

But the Scottish government said it was investing in long-term reform of the NHS with additional funding for outpatient services, improving specialist surgery and treatment, and allowing people to be cared for in the community for longer.

There has been a steady decline since 2011 and the 90% target has not been met since June 2014.

The figures also show a decline in the number of patients getting new outpatient appointments within 12 weeks.

The Scottish Conservatives' health spokesman Donald Cameron said: "This is all on the SNP's watch and it has to explain the disastrous slump in these crucial waiting times, given it's been running the NHS for almost a decade."

'Long-term strategy'

Scottish Labour said the SNP was "sleepwalking into an NHS crisis".

But the Scottish government said it was investing in long-term reform of the NHS with additional funding for outpatient services, improving specialist surgery and treatment, and allowing people to be cared for in the community for longer.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: "We're investing substantially in social care and community care, with a view to keeping people healthy at home for as long as possible.

"This will, in time, help prevent the need for many people to go to hospital.

"These changes won't happen overnight but they are part of a clear, long-term strategy of matching increased investment in our NHS with reform to ensure our health service is providing care to the people of Scotland long into the future."

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