Too many people waiting too long for treatment, says Health Secretary

Scotland’s Health Secretary said there are “too many people waiting too long for treatment” in Scotland as she announced £70 million to cut NHS waiting times.

Speaking at the SNP’s spring conference in Edinburgh, Jeane Freeman said the cash would help carry out more operations, such as hip and knee replacements and cataract procedures, and also increase diagnostic appointments.

She pledged the 12-week waiting time targets in Scotland would not be scrapped.

The £70 million for 2019/20 is part of the waiting times improvement plan announced in October 2018, and follows on from the £27 million allocated in 2018/19.

The plan commits to £535 million in frontline spending, as well as around £120 million in capital and also comprises the £200 million for the elective and diagnostic treatment centres programme.

Ms Freeman told delegates: “Since October 2012 over 1.7 million people have had their inpatient treatment within our 12-week target.

“But there are still too many people waiting too long for the treatment they face.”

“The challenge to meet this demand is faced across the UK but in England they look like they are simply abandoning their targets under their Tory government.

“They give up. We don’t. I have no intention of abandoning those who are waiting too long, in pain and discomfort for the treatment they need.

“So a few months ago I set out how we will use the significant additional resource to tackle this challenge.

“A plan that systematically brings improvement to ensure our targets are met by the spring of 2021.

“I am pleased to announce today that this year I will be targeting £70 million of additional investment to carry out more procedures – hip and knee replacements, cataract procedures, an increase in the number of outpatient and diagnostic appointments – and the next steps in delivery for our five new elective and diagnostic centres, bringing quicker treatment for planned surgery, and easing pressure on emergency care.”

Details of the breakdown of the allocation of the £70 million by health board and area of specialism are due to be finalised by the end of May.