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‘Real progress’ in reducing outpatient wait times hailed by Health Secretary

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said ‘real progress’ has been made in tackling waiting times (Peter Byrne/PA)
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said ‘real progress’ has been made in tackling waiting times (Peter Byrne/PA)

Health boards in Scotland have seen significant progress in reducing outpatient appointment waiting times, Humza Yousaf has said.

The Health Secretary hailed new statistics from Public Health Scotland which show 22 of 41 specialties had no patients waiting more than two years for treatment.

Nine others had fewer than 10 people waiting more than the target time.

Some 71% of health boards had five patients or fewer waiting more than two years for an outpatient appointment.

The Scottish Government aimed to reduce waiting times for most specialties by the end of August.

The target, set in July, aimed to address the spiralling waiting times in planned care because of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

There were 477,294 patients awaiting an outpatient appointment as of the end of August and just 2,106 were waiting longer than two years.

Patients seeking appointments in endocrinology and diabetes and gastroenterology waited more than 500 days to be seen, according to the data.

Figures also reveal that 90% of two-year waits were in either Ayrshire and Arran or Grampian health boards.

Mr Yousaf said: “I would like to thank all NHS staff for their phenomenal work to tackle these long waits, their efforts will have an overwhelming positive impact on the lives of patients who have had their waits for treatment exacerbated by the pandemic.

“This is real progress on our recovery journey and we can now see the healthcare system is beginning to turn as we make positive steps forward in our recovery from the pandemic – we must stay focused on these efforts.

“With two boards together accounting for 90% of all patients waiting over two years, we will work intensely with these boards to ensure the remaining waits are cleared as soon as possible.”

A small number of patients were unable to be seen by the end of August target for personal or clinical reasons.