NHS waiting times funding boost announced

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman pledges to bring treatment waits down by 2021

Monday 29th April 2019

Scotland’s Health Secretary has said she has ‘no intention’ of watering down health service targets as she committed an extra £70m to bring down treatment waits by 2021.

The funding boost – announced by Jeane Freeman at the SNP’s party conference this weekend – will be channelled into providing more operations and enhancing five elective and diagnostic centres across the country.

Speaking to delegates at the governing party’s annual gathering, the former social security minister criticised the UK Government for ‘simply abandoning their targets’.

She told delegates: “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. A plan that systematically brings improvement to ensure our targets are met by the Spring of 2021.”

Last month the head of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Professor Derek Bell, told healthandcare.scot NHS England’s plans to rethink waiting times targets risked giving a “false impression of the patient journey”.

Data shows Scotland consistently outperforms its southern neighbour on waiting times – though the target of seeing 95% of A&E patients within four hours has not been met since July 2017.  

The cash boost announced over the weekend is the second portion of an £850m Scottish Government plan to improve waiting times and will be used for procedures such as cataract removal and hip and knee replacements, alongside increasing outpatient and diagnostic appointments.

Ms Freeman added: “We’re working with our health boards to finalise this next phase of the waiting times plan. This includes taking forward our new elective and diagnostic centres – these will further help quicker treatment for planned surgery, taking pressure off emergency treatment.”