NHS in Scotland 'in good health'

NHS hospital
Image caption The BMA praised hard working staff facing pressures of targets and squeezed budgets

The health service has "delivered its best ever performance" in key areas over the past 12 months, according to the chief executive of NHS Scotland.

Derek Feeley delivered the assessment in his annual report for 2011-12.

Mr Feely highlighted achievements including meeting the target of having 90% of patients wait no longer than 18 weeks from referral to treatment.

BMA Scotland warned of financial pressures and said tough choices would have to be made over future services.

Mr Feeley stressed the work by staff to meet waiting times targets, including for cancer care, as well as a fall in superbugs Clostridium difficile and MRSA.

Cancer waiting times, including reducing the time between the decision to treat a patient and that treatment starting to 31 days, had also been met.

'Care is safer'

There has also been a 24% fall in C.diff cases, as well as a 10% reduction in MRSA/MSSA cases in 2011-12.

More than 272,000 alcohol brief interventions, where people are questioned about the amount they drink, have been carried out over the past four years.

Mr Feeley said: "In a number of important areas of patient care, NHS Scotland has delivered its best ever performance during the past 12 months.

"Waiting times are at their lowest ever levels, care is safer than it has ever been, levels of premature mortality have been further reduced and patients continue to rate their care very positively.

However, he said there was "no complacency" in NHS Scotland and where the NHS had not been at its best over the past year lessons had been learnt.

Dr Brian Keighley, the chairman of the British Medical Association Scotland, said the high standard of performance was testimony to the NHS's hard-working staff, under pressure to achieve targets as staffing numbers and budgets fall.

He said: "Our NHS is facing tough times and, as financial pressures mount, tough choices will need to be made about what the NHS can and cannot afford to deliver.

"Politicians and managers must take a long-term view of the NHS and work with health care professions to identify how services can be made more efficient and where cuts could be made without compromising patient care."

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