The law which requires the SNP government to treat patients within 12 weeks has now been broken more than 300,000 times, new figures have revealed.
The Scottish Government introduced treatment time legislation in 2012, promising all patients would be seen within the 12-week window once the decision had been taken to proceed with their treatment.
But SNP ministers have found it increasingly difficult to meet the target, meaning thousands of patients are left waiting too long every month.
Nearly all the data pre-dates Covid, and the pandemic actually reduced the number of hospital operations taking place, so cannot be blamed for the situation.
Research by pro-UK campaign group Scotland in Union has revealed that by the end of September 2020 – the most recent month for which figures are available – the pledge has been broken on 312,473 occasions since it was introduced.
In the quarter ending September 2020, there were 16,820 people waiting beyond the 12-week mark.
The research has also revealed 4,171 occasions where children had to wait longer than the legal requirement for paediatric surgery, as well as 9,619 cases involving gynaecological procedures for women.
Scotland in Union said the ongoing failings demonstrate the SNP has presided over a long-term decline in the NHS, routinely failing thousands of patients while it obsesses about independence.
Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said:
“These figures are unacceptable and a damning verdict on a nationalist government which has been distracted from the day job.
“Thousands of patients have been let down by the SNP while it obsesses about independence.
“It is clear that nationalist ministers ignored the need to build resilience into our NHS - they cannot blame the pandemic; this has been an ongoing problem for many years that they have failed to address. Scotland deserves better.
“The entire focus of government should now be on Covid recovery and rebuilding our NHS, putting patients ahead of constitutional arguments.”
The figures can be seen here along with more information about the 12-week target.
You can also read more here.