Date lodged: 31 May 2018
To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to question S5W-14562 by Shona Robison on 28 February 2018, in light of the cabinet secretary's comment that "I expect to see improvements between now and the end of March 2018", what its response is to reports that waiting times for an initial orthopaedic appointment in NHS Lothian have increased to up to 45 weeks.
Answered by: Shona Robison 14 June 2018
I am pleased that NHSScotland saw a significant decrease in the number of patients waiting over 12 weeks for a first outpatient consultation on 31 March 2018 with a reduction of around 23% since 30 September 2017. I was however extremely disappointed that waiting times for first outpatient consultation for orthopaedic waiting times in Lothian have not reduced over the last year. My officials are urgently in detailed discussion with Lothian to produce a recovery plan to significantly reduce the waits time for patients requiring elective hospital care - including in the specialty of orthopaedics.
The Trauma and Orthopaedics ACCESS Programme are working with all Boards toward delivery of the 7 national commitments. This includes expanding the use of Muscoloskeletal Allied Health Professional community service with the aim of freeing up to 10,000 outpatient consultations per year as well as developing orthopaedic 'needs only' review aiming to reduce around 15,000 return outpatient appointments. These programmes will ensure that patients are seen by the most appropriate clinician nearer to home whilst freeing up hospital doctors time to see only those patients requiring hospital care and reduce waiting times.
On 28 May, I announced that an additional £50 million has been made available to reduce the number of patients experiencing long waits for hospital care in specialties such as orthopaedics. An initial £25 million has been issued to Boards - with Lothian receiving £3.7 million. A further £25 million will be issued later this year to help support Boards build upon improvement in services through the work Boards are doing with the Access Collaborative.