The number of Scots stuck on NHS waiting lists for more than a year has soared, new figures have revealed.
Research has revealed a fourfold increase in patients waiting for 52 weeks and over for a range of treatments since the end of June.
The analysis by Scotland in Union has highlighted how it could take years to tackle the NHS backlog caused by Covid, long after the public health emergency is over.
According to the official ISD Scotland figures, at the end of June 2020 there were 8,913 people who had been on hospital waiting lists for a year or longer.
By September that had risen to 20,940, which then rocketed to 39,001 at the end of December.
The figures include new outpatients as well as inpatients and day cases.
According to Scottish Government targets, all new outpatients should be seen within 12 weeks of referral.
And for inpatients and day cases, there is a legally binding guarantee that procedures will commence within 12 weeks.
Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said:
“Tens of thousands of patients have been languishing on waiting lists for over a year, and it is likely that many will be suffering from pain and discomfort as a result and will be anxious about when they will eventually be treated.
“These figures demonstrate the massive impact of Covid on our NHS and the long-term challenge we face as we enter the recovery period.
“It also shows how the SNP failed to build resilience into the NHS to cope with a pandemic, despite all the warnings.
“These waiting lists were avoidable.
“What must now be recognised is that the Covid crisis does not end when the public health emergency is over – it will take years to recover; and that should be politicians’ only priority.
“It would be reckless to seek to divide Scotland once again with a constitutional row when all focus should be on the national Covid recovery and restoring our NHS.”
NHS Scotland, all specialties, distribution of wait - ongoing waits - 52 weeks and over
Inpatient and day case:
Up to month ending June 30th: 3,950
Up to month ending September 30th: 8,815
Up to month ending December 31st: 15,179
Up to month ending June 30th: 4,963
Up to month ending September 30th: 12,125
Up to month ending December 31st: 23,822
Up to month ending June 30th: 8,913
Up to month ending September 30th: 20,940
Up to month ending December 31st: 39,001
Data is available here.
Previous data here.
NHS Scotland, all specialties, distribution of wait - ongoing waits - 52 weeks and over, inpatient, day cases and outpatient total by health board, up to month ending December 31st:
NHS Ayrshire and Arran – 2619
NHS Borders – 128
NHS Dumfries and Galloway – 188
NHS Fife – 159
NHS Forth Valley – 710
NHS Golden Jubilee – 57
NHS Grampian – 5380
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde – 13,579
NHS Highland – 1583
NHS Lanarkshire – 1486
NHS Lothian – 9326
NHS Orkney – 68
NHS Shetland – 79
NHS Tayside – 3620
NHS Western Isles – 19
Total – 39,001