Dozens of patients died last year while waiting for an appointment to treat chronic pain in Scotland, it has emerged.
New figures have revealed that 43 people were removed from pain clinic waiting lists because they had passed away before being able to see a specialist.
Last year, pro-UK campaign group Scotland in Union highlighted how significant numbers of patients had died while awaiting pain appointments in the previous five years.
Since September 2017 that total now stands at 240.
The Public Health Scotland figures showed 16 people died between June and September this year, 10 the quarter before that, seven at the end of March and a further 10 in the three months before.
Hundreds of people are removed from chronic pain waiting lists each month for a range of reasons, including a refusal to attend or other solutions to their pain have been found.
Scotland in Union said the number of patients dying after having been referred to see a specialist pointed to deeper problems within the NHS, over which the SNP has had sole responsibility for more than 15 years.
Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said:
“People will be extremely concerned about the state of Scotland’s NHS if this many people have died in pain without seeing a specialist.
“These are extremely vulnerable people, yet every year many of them die without these desperately needed appointments.
“It’s yet another example of the problems which the SNP has allowed to unfold within our NHS.
“The nationalists have been in sole charge of health for more than 15 years – they are the ones who need to explain what’s gone wrong.”
The latest data on chronic pain waiting times can be seen here.
The relevant Excel file can be found at Tab 14.
It shows the following number of patients have died while waiting for a chronic pain appointment, by quarter end since 2017 –
September 2017 – 12
December 2017 – 10
March 2018 – 16
June 2018 – 13
September 2018 – 14
December 2018 – 10
March 2019 – 8
June 2019 – 10
September 2019 – 18
December 2019 – 9
March 2020 – 13
June 2020 – 19
September 2020 – 10
December 2020 – 9
March 2021 – 6
June 2021 – 8
Sep 2021 – 12
December 2021 – 10
March 2022 – 7
June 2022 – 10
September 2022 - 16
Total - 240