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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 May 2006, 13:45 GMT 14:45 UK
Kerr hails NHS waiting time fall
Andy Kerr
Andy Kerr said NHS staff should be praised for their efforts
Scotland's health minister has hailed the latest statistics on NHS waiting times as the "best ever".

Andy Kerr said patients had seen maximum waiting times reduced from 12 months to six.

The number of outpatients and inpatient day cases with an 18-week wait for treatment was at its lowest ever level, the figures up to 31 March show.

But the Scottish Tories accused the Scottish Executive of misrepresenting the facts.

Mr Kerr said the NHS in Scotland was continuing to deliver and he also hailed the contribution of the Golden Jubilee Hospital in Clydebank, which was bought in 2002 to reduce waiting times.

These are the same statistics that we used to get hammered for just some months ago
Andy Kerr
Health Minister

"We're on track to bring that down even further with our target to cut the maximum wait to 18 weeks for first outpatient appointment or inpatient/day case treatment by December 2007," he said.

"These results have been possible thanks to the significant investment and reform we've made and which is now showing real dividends for patients across the country."

'Patients are winners'

The minister added: "These are the same statistics that we used to get hammered for just some months ago."

Statistics also show the Golden Jubilee Hospital performed 28,636 procedures, an increase of 50% on the previous year and exceeded its target by 14%.

Mr Kerr said the hospital offered patient choice, reduced waiting times and delivered first-class services.

Golden Jubilee Hospital
The Golden Jubilee has exceeded its targets, the figures show

Jill Young, chief executive of the Golden Jubilee Hospital, said: "It is our patients who come to the hospital from all parts of Scotland who are the winners in all of this.

"They are our number one priority. This news is also a testimony to the hard work of our staff.

"They continually rise to the challenge of treating more people year on year and without them it would be impossible to continue our success."

The Conservatives' health spokeswoman, Dr Nanette Milne MSP, said: "This is exactly the same con as when the previous figures were published back in March.

"This is because the data that the executive uses to measure waiting times targets are people currently waiting for treatment, not those who have been treated.

'Hidden lists'

"So while it may be the case that at the exact census dates in a year no-one with a guarantee waits more that 26 weeks for treatment, none of these people have yet been treated.

"There has been a gross misrepresentation of facts to pretend that the executive's guarantee has been met."

SNP health spokeswoman Shona Robison said she was delighted that no-one with a guarantee was waiting more than six months for treatment.

But she said many patients were excluded from those statistics by their inclusion on "hidden waiting lists".

"Excluding a third of those waiting for treatment from the headline figures is misleading and wrong," she added.

See how targets could be distorting standards of care

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