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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 November, 2003, 12:20 GMT
Waiting times on the rise
Patients waiting
No patient had to wait more than 12 months for treatment
Patients are waiting longer for NHS treatment in Scotland, according to the latest figures.

Statistics suggested that the median wait for inpatient and day patients was 40 days during the three months to the end of September.

That figure was an increase of two days from the previous quarter.

The statistics also showed that NHS Scotland met the national target of no patient waiting longer than 12 months for inpatient treatment.

There has also been a slight decrease in the total number of people on waiting lists, which fell from 112,182 in the previous quarter to 110,661.

Patient guarantee

The 12-month national guaranteed waiting time for inpatient and daycase treatment is supposed to be cut to nine months by the end of this year.

Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm said progress was being made towards achieving that target.

According to the figures published by the Information and Statistics Division, 897 patients with a guarantee waited more than nine months for inpatient or day case treatment.

That was down from 1,177 in the previous quarter and 3,837 at the same time last year.

Patients are waiting longer than ever for treatment under Labour
John Swinney
Scottish National Party leader
Ten acute trusts and two island boards units are already meeting the Scottish Executive's target as they had no-one with a guarantee waiting more than nine months.

Mr Chisholm said: "Tackling the longest waits in NHS Scotland is a priority for me, the executive and the health service."

He congratulated those in the areas where the nine-month guarantee had been met.

"The NHS must maintain its focus on meeting that guarantee," he said.

"The next set of figures will be a key to providing a picture to patients of what they can expect from the health service in Scotland.

Fewer patients

"It is crucial that once the service delivers the nine month guarantee, it continues to work towards the six month targets for both inpatient/day cases and outpatient consultations promised by the end of 2005."

Scottish National Party leader John Swinney described the figures as a "disaster".

He said: "Patients are waiting longer than ever for treatment under Labour.

The cracks over which the minister is trying to paper are becoming larger and larger
David Davidson
Tory health spokesman
"We are now approaching 100 days from referral to treatment - and amazingly, despite all the money spent, Labour is even managing to treat fewer patients."

Tory health spokesman David Davidson said the bottom line was that people were waiting longer.

"Despite the usual bluster from the minister, it is clear from today's statistics that the health service in Scotland is getting no better," he said.

"The cracks over which the minister is trying to paper are becoming larger and larger."

The Scottish Executive argued that the increase reflected the continuing drive to cut waiting times.

It said that the figures had been driven up by targeting those who had been waiting the longest.

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