BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: Scotland  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Thursday, 28 November, 2002, 22:39 GMT
Anger over waiting time rise
Nurse
Waiting lists have grown since the end of June
A dramatic increase in the length of time hospital patients are waiting to get treatment has been condemned by opposition politicians.

The Scottish National Party accused the Scottish Executive of an "appalling failure to deliver".

And the Scottish Tories claimed that ministers should "hang their heads in shame" over the latest statistics.


How has this first minister and this executive managed to make a bad situation even worse?

John Swinney
SNP leader
However, Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm said he was committed to ensuring improvements.

The figures released on Thursday showed a higher than ever average wait of 59 days to see a consultant after being referred by a GP - compared to 46 days four years ago.

The average wait for inpatients has also risen from 30 days in 1999 to 35 days.

The number of people on waiting lists has risen to 82,359, representing an increase of 3% between the end of June and the end of September.

The figures from the Information and Statistics Division of NHS Scotland also said that 19 patients had to wait longer than the executive's 12 month guarantee.

However, Scottish National Party leader John Swinney claimed that the true figure was actually 2,526.

'Patients first'

He asked First Minister Jack McConnell why that figure had increased by 300% since the government came to office.

Mr McConnell accused the SNP of distorting figures and said: "Systematically, step by step, by investing and reform, we will ensure patients are put first."

At first minister's questions, Mr Swinney said the percentage of patients seen within six months had fallen from 95% to almost 90% since 1999.

Jack McConnell
Jack McConnell: "Investing and reform"
"After seeing that consultant in 1999, people would have waited four weeks for treatment - but now they wait for five weeks," he told the Scottish Parliament.

"Can the first minister explain this appalling failure to deliver?

"How has this first minister and this executive managed to make a bad situation even worse?"

Mr McConnell said the executive's first priority had been to cut waiting times for heart disease, stroke and cancer patients.

"Our next priority was to cut the time for those waiting for hospital treatment to nine months by December 2003, and we are on course to meet that target," he said.

"Our next big challenge is to reduce waiting times for outpatients, and those waiting for a first appointment should have to wait no longer than six months."

Right direction

Speaking earlier, Mr Chisholm admitted that more needed to be done to reduce waiting times.

"While it is heartening to see that nearly 90% of patients are seen within six months, much more needs to be done to drive down outpatient waits.

"On 30 September there was a small decrease in the number of patients waiting nine months but I want to ensure that those figures are accelerated in the right direction - downwards," he said.

Mr Chisholm was later named Scottish Politician of the Year at an awards ceremony and gala dinner in Edinburgh.

However, Tory health spokeswoman Mary Scanlon said: "On just about every conceivable criteria on which they can be judged, things are worse under Labour and the Lib Dems than under the Conservatives.

"There is no crumb of comfort for the Scottish government in these figures, only more pain, suffering and waiting for Scottish patients."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Political editor Brian Taylor reports
"Opposition parties say that by any code these figures are getting worse"
See also:

25 Nov 02 | Scotland
29 Aug 02 | Scotland
25 Jun 02 | Scotland
30 May 02 | Scotland
15 May 02 | Scotland
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Scotland stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Scotland stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes