Extra staff to tackle psychology services queue

Plan to improve waiting times in Lothian with £2.5m for additional temporary and permanent staff

Thursday 22nd August 2019

Around £2.5m is to be spent on recruiting more psychology staff in a bid to tackle a ‘significant queue’ of patients in Lothian.

The plans involve an additional 17 temporary full-time and the equivalent of 9.3 full-time permanent posts over the next three years.

NHS Lothian has experienced challenges in meeting a target of at least 90% of patients starting treatment within 18 weeks of referral for ‘a number of years’, according to a report presented at Edinburgh Integration Joint Board (IJB) meeting.

It notes this has resulted in the build-up of a ‘significant queue of patients’ who are waiting for longer than the target time.

And it raises concerns from patients and relatives about the “detrimental impact” of having to wait a long time for treatment.

The report notes that without action the additional staff the number of people not seen within 18 weeks ‘will continue to rise’ and improvements to waiting times may be slower than expected if the plan is delayed, due to recruitment challenges for some posts.

The plans were discussed at a meeting of the Edinburgh IJB this week, which agreed to approve the investment required, but with more information to be provided after concerns were raised about a lack of detail in the proposal.

Judith Proctor, Edinburgh IJB chief officer, said there were “pretty unacceptable waiting lists of people not getting the therapy required”.

She said: “I think the thing I would want to emphasis to the board is this level of wait, the number of people who have been waiting too long and that the waiting list grows while we don’t take action.”