Majority of boards miss 18-week treatment target

Doctors call for more support for medical staff so services can cope with rising demand

Tuesday 27th August 2019

Fewer than 90% of patients in 11 of Scotland’s 14 regional NHS boards received treatment within 18 weeks of being referred, the latest figures show.

In response to the figures, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE), says medical staff need more support so they can ‘innovate as well as treat, teach, and research’.

The group is calling for a new workforce plan from the Scottish Government and staff given support to develop new treatment and care models that can cope with rising demand.

In 2011 the Scottish Government set a target for 90% of patients to begin treatment within 18 weeks of being referred, but the standard has now not been met nationally since 2014.

During June, 72.9% of patients were seen within 18 weeks of referral, compared to 82.8% over the same time period in 2018.

“This report shows that just over 20% of patients did not receive important treatment within 18 weeks of referral, and that 11 NHS Boards did not meet the national standard,” explains Dr Sue Pound, vice-president of the RCPE.

“This means that Scotland unfortunately continues to perform under the 90% standard for treatment, which has been the case since 2014.

“Waiting for treatment can be a particularly stressful time for patients. We must work together to help improve the treatment pathway for patients across Scotland.

“Medical staff - including doctors across the Scottish NHS - are working hard to deliver the quality treatment standard for patients, but they do require further support.

“The best way that the Scottish Government can do this is to propose a workforce plan that gives medical staff the time to innovate as well as treat, teach, and research.

“This should be done along with innovation in designing and implementing new models of care.

“In the longer term, a further increase in medical school places will help.

“As a Royal College representing thousands of doctors across Scotland and the UK, we regularly feed their views on such matters to the Scottish Government.”