Chronic pain patients call for cash to cut waiting times after 19 die

MSP Dorothy Grace Elder (Graeme Hunter)

THE NHS is spending just £333,000 of an £51.6 million budget boost to shorten waiting for chronic pain patients.

Campaigners have criticised the spending plans after 19 patients died while waiting to see pain experts.

They say no guidance has been given for where the extra funding is being spent, despite patients in some areas waiting more than two years for a pain injection.

Now spending watchdog Audit Scotland is to examine how much money goes to treating chronic pain as part of a review of all health spending.

Former Health Secretary Shona Robison announced the cash boost last May, with another £50m offered earlier this year, boosting funding to £101m.

But we can reveal NHS Glasgow allocated just £142,000 out of £12.5m to bolster chronic pain waiting times and services, NHS Lothian just £75,000 out of £7.37m, NHS Grampian £35,000 out of £4.9m, NHS Dumfries & Galloway gave £22,000 out of £1.49m, and NHS Ayrshire & Arran allocated £15,000 out of £3.7m.

Parliament’s Chronic Pain Cross Party Group (CPCPG) say other health boards reported spending nothing at all or failed to respond to requests for figures.

CPCPG secretary Dorothy-Grace Elder, said: “Parliament and the public aren’t being told how this money is being spent.

“We believe some of the Government letters sent to boards may not be specific enough on where the extra funding is spent so health boards are deciding to use the extra funding for other purposes.

“Handing over what will total £101m and letting health boards make all the decisions about where it should be spent because of their supposed autonomy doesn’t work.”

The Scottish Government said: “Health boards must use their share of the additional £50 million to treat patients waiting the longest wherever possible to ensure waiting times across all specialities are reduced equitably.”