Lib Dems in NHS waiting time apology bid

Government should provide realistic waiting times and say sorry to patients who wait longer than 12 weeks, party says

Wednesday 15th May 2019

Today the Liberal Democrats will call on the Health Secretary to apologise to patients who wait longer than the 12-week treatment time guarantee.

The party says the Scottish Government is failing to abide by a 2012 law that says all eligible patients should get their treatment within three months, as at least 190,000 patients have faced longer waits.

Alex Cole-Hamilton, the party’s health spokesperson, claims the legal guarantee needs ‘some teeth’.

A motion to be debated at Holyrood today claims the law is currently being breached ‘by its largest ever margin’ and says there is ‘no effective redress for patients or penalty for the Scottish Government’ if people wait longer.

Patients should be given a realistic estimate of how long they could wait for treatment and every patient waiting longer than the guarantee should receive a letter of apology, the party says.

The Scottish Government says it offers an ‘unreserved’ apology to anyone who waits ‘longer for treatment than they should do’.

It agrees that all patients should be given a realistic estimate of their likely waiting time.

The Edinburgh Western MSP said: “Ministers have set out a plan to stop breaking the law by 2021 – a full decade after it was passed. Scottish Liberal Democrats demand better.

“It is time this legal guarantee had some teeth. Today Parliament can back my motion calling for the Health Secretary to have to apologise to each patient every time the Scottish Government fails to abide by its own law. Patients need to be told their rights and told for how many other people the law has been breached. It is time the SNP Government was straight with people.”