‘This area is not getting its fair share’

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More North East residents waited for inpatient surgery last year than at any time since treatment targets were introduced, it has emerged.

More than 9,000 cases were on NHS Grampian waiting lists beyond the SNP waiting times target of 12 weeks for inpatient or day case admission. This is more than eight times the number of cases on the health board’s books when official figures began – 1,099 in 2013.

According to ISD Scotland quarterly data released last week, the number has increased significantly since Holyrood introduced the 12-week standard.

Some 9,299 cases were on the books across each quarter in 2018, compared to 7,414 the years before.

And that’s just not good enough according to North East Conservative MSP Peter Chapman.

He said:“Staff are toiling because of underfunding by the SNP Government. Based on its own formula for handing out cash, it has consistently given the North East less than its due. The result is fewer staff having to work harder, and more people having to wait longer.

“Waiting 12 weeks on serious surgery can feel like an eternity. No one should have to wait any longer than that. “These startling figures are proof that this area is not getting a fair share.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We recognise that some people are waiting too long, which is why the Health Secretary Jeane Freeman published our £850 million Waiting Times Improvement Plan in October last year.

“Initial funding under the Waiting Times Improvement Plan has recently been awarded to health boards, with NHS Grampian receiving £791,000 in the current financial year to specifically target Ophthalmology and Endoscopy waiting lists.”

A spokesperson for NHS Grampian admitted that there were additional issues involved that had contributed to the controversial delays

She stated: “We acknowledge our current performance falls short of that for some patients.

“This is due to issues in recruiting to some specialist medical and nursing vacancies.

“Where we do not achieve the waiting standards set we actively manage the lists and ensure that patients are treated as soon as possible.

“We would like to reassure people that patients are always assessed based on their clinical need and those with urgent requirements are always seen first. “​​