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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 August 2006, 19:11 GMT 20:11 UK
NHS waiting list reduction hailed
First Minister Jack McConnell chat to patient Angela Conner during a visit to  Glasgow's Southern General Hospital
Jack McConnell hailed the waiting list figures as the "best ever"
NHS patients in Scotland are being treated faster than ever, latest statistics show.

No patient in Scotland had waited more than six months for treatment and the numbers waiting more than 18 weeks were at their lowest ever level.

The figures, collected on 30 June, also included the first comprehensive survey of accident and emergency wait times.

Some 88% of patients were treated within four hours, but this varied across the country.

The new Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh only managed to treat 65% of patients within four hours.

It said this was because it was dealing with a triple shooting during the period of the census.

However, average A&E waiting times at the hospital were 189 minutes, compared to the Scottish figure of 97 minutes.

Glasgow's Victoria Infirmary, which dates back to the 19th Century and is set to lose its A&E functions under a health shake-up, had some of the shortest waits, with an average figure of 67 minutes.

We have hit our existing targets again and have made great strides towards even tougher targets
Jack McConnell
First Minister

Almost 30,000 people attended Scotland's A&E units when the seven-day survey was carried out in April.

Half had their first clinical assessment within 22 minutes, while half were discharged, admitted or transferred within 97 minutes.

However, 12% - more than 3,600 patients - spent more than four hours in A&E departments.

The main reasons for delay were waiting for a bed (31% of all recorded reasons) and waiting for a first assessment (20%).

For patients viewed as major cases, waiting for a bed accounted for 44% of all recorded reasons. The figure for Edinburgh Royal Infirmary was 51%.

WAITING TIMES IN MINUTES
Ninewells Hospital, Dundee - 66
Glasgow Victoria Infirmary - 67
Glasgow Southern General - 95
Hairmyres Hospital, East Kilbride - 108
Aberdeen Royal Infirmary - 111
Raigmore Hospital, Inverness - 119
Wishaw General - 123
Monklands Hospital, Airdrie - 124
Stirling Royal Infirmary - 127
Glasgow Royal Infirmary - 155
Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley - 158
Glasgow Western/Gartnavel General - 160
Edinburgh Royal Infirmary - 189

First Minister Jack McConnell hailed the figures as the "best ever" when he visited Glasgow's Southern General Hospital with Health Minister Andy Kerr.

For in-patients and day cases, no-one covered by a waiting time guarantee had been waiting more than six months on 30 June when the figures were collected, the same as in March.

At the end of June last year, more than 1,100 patients had been waiting more than six months.

Mr McConnell said: "We have hit our existing targets again and have made great strides towards even tougher targets."

Mr Kerr said the data showed that the vast majority of A&E departments were meeting the four-hour target.

"Of course, most patients experience far shorter waits - the average wait is actually just over one hour and a half," he said.

He said health chiefs were aware of the need for improvement at Edinburgh Royal and that this was already happening.

The Scottish Conservatives argued that the waiting times figures measured only those waiting for treatment - not those who had actually been treated.

'Very different'

Health spokeswoman Nanette Milne said: "It is all very different from June 1997, when more than 70% of outpatients were seen within nine weeks.

"Today, that figure is fewer than 60%."

The SNP accused the executive of continuing to use "hidden" waiting lists which now included 35,000 in-patients.

Health spokeswoman Shona Robison said Labour had failed to "clean up its act" on hidden waiting lists.

The executive said the figures related to patients not covered by the conventional waiting times calculation for reasons which include not showing up for an appointment or wanting to delay admission for personal reasons.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Watch a report on the statistics



SEE ALSO
Kerr hails NHS waiting time fall
25 May 06 |  Scotland
SNP criticises NHS waiting times
13 Apr 06 |  Scotland
NHS fails cancer waiting time aim
07 Mar 06 |  Scotland

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