'No Let Up' In Effort To Reduce Waiting Times

Patients across Scotland will wait no longer than 18 weeks from GP referral to treatment by December.

That was the pledge made today by Cabinet Secretary for Health Nicola Sturgeon, during her first visit to a hospital since re-appointment.

The first statistics measuring progress to 18 weeks Referal for Treatment (RTT) were also published today and show that in the last quarter 85 per cent of patients who will be covered by the new waiting times target are already having their treatment within the timeframe.

In addition figures measuring current targets show that 99.9 per cent of patients are waiting 12 weeks or less for their first outpatient appointment and 99.7 per cent are waiting less than nine weeks for inpatient/day case surgery.

In addition 97.6 per cent of patients are waiting six weeks or less for one of the eight key diagnostic tests, this compares with 93.6 per cent in December last year.

At Edinburgh Royal Infirmary Ms Sturgeon said: "As the recently re-appointed Health Secretary I want to give my assurance today that there will be no let up in this government's bid to drive down waiting times.

"Patients continue to tell me that prompt access to treatment, delivered as locally as possible, is one of their top priorities and that is why we are continuing to put such an emphasis on cutting waiting times.”

She added: "The delivery of the 18 weeks target is the next big challenge for our NHS, but it is the right challenge and I want to be 100 per cent clear that this remains one of my key commitments.

"Not only is this in patients' best interest, having even lower waiting times is a more efficient way of using NHS resources.

"I look forward to working with Boards to deliver on this ambitious target for the benefit of patients across the country. I expect that they will now be planning for sustained action to ensure that this pledge is delivered and will closely monitor progress over the coming months."

NHS Scotland is currently working towards a referral to treatment waiting time target of 18 weeks from GP referral to treatment. This was announced by the Health Secretary in June 2007 and is due to be delivered by December 2011.


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