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Scottish government plans to bring down NHS waiting times by 2021

Health Secretary launches £850m plan to meet waiting time targets by 2021

Ingrid Torjesen

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

The Scottish Government has published a plan to direct more than £850 million of investment to improve NHS waiting times.

The plan’s immediate focus is on improvements for patients whose treatment is urgent, who have a suspicion of cancer, and those who have waited the longest for an appointment. Steps will then be taken to reduce waiting times for outpatient and inpatient appointments and day cases.

The plan sets out how the Scottish Government will take action in three main areas: increasing capacity across the system, increasing clinical effectiveness and efficiency, designing and implementing new models of care.

It commits £535 million in frontline spending, and around £120 million in capital, in addition to the ongoing £200 million elective and diagnostic treatment centres programme over the next two and a half years.

There will also be work to build on the significant additional recruitment and training which is ongoing across the medical, nursing and the allied health professions. A £4 million investment will increase domestic and international recruitment, focusing on GP, nursing, midwifery and consultant specialties with the highest vacancy rates.

The plan sets out the aim to improve performance on outpatients waiting less than 12 weeks to 95%, and for inpatients and day cases under the treatment time guarantee to 100% by Spring 2021. The plan also aims for 95% of patients awaiting cancer treatment to be seen within the 62-day standard.

Health secretary Jeane Freeman said: “Over the next 30 months we will deliver this over £850 million plan through phased, focused and decisive action to secure substantial and sustainable improvements to performance. Our central aim is to significantly improve the experience of patients waiting to be seen or treated.

“Meeting these commitments requires work to address existing targets, but it also requires a whole-system approach spanning hospital, primary, community, and social care to really increase sustainable delivery.

“Solutions will be different in different areas of the country and in different specialties – but the drive for improvement will be national in scope. Achieving this will require a focused, intense programme of work that accelerates action that is already underway.”

Labour health spokesperson Monica Lennon said: “This Government gave patients a legal right to treatment within 12 weeks, but that law has been broken 150,000 times.”

She asked: “Is it the Government’s intention to keep on breaking its own law until 2021?” 

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