Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What services does NHS Lothian provide?

A. NHS Lothian provides a full range of healthcare services from GP clinics to acute hospital care. We have community hospitals and treatment centres, facilities for children, older people and those with mental health problems. NHS Lothian also provides community pharmacies, dental care, midwifery, drugs and alcohol treatment, sexual health services and much more.

Q. What area do you cover?

A. We provide healthcare services to everyone in Edinburgh, Midlothian, East Lothian and West Lothian – a population of 826,000. Many of our specialist services serve people across southeast Scotland and nationally.

Q. How much funding does NHS Lothian have?

A. We invest around £1.4 billion a year in healthcare services to protect and improve the health and wellbeing of the people of Lothian and beyond. 

Q. What acute hospitals are there?

A. Our University Hospitals Division (UHD) provides adult, paediatric and maternity services. Our acute hospitals are The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh; St John’s Hospital at Howden, Livingston; the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh and the Western General Hospital. All are all teaching hospitals and centres of excellence.

Q. How many patients does NHS Lothian treat?

A. Our GPs have around 2.8 million patient consultations per year and other practice-based medical teams have over 1.2 million face-to-face contacts with patients a year. Our acute hospitals dealt with some 73,000 emergency admissions last year (adults and children), 25,000 planned elective admissions , and 52,000 planned day case admissions. Across all three types of hospital activity some 103,000 patients were treated – many of whom had more than one admission/treatment in the year.

In addition, some 240,000 new outpatient consultations with hospital specialists are conducted each year. Half of these consultations are in the surgical specialties.

Q. How many surgical operations do you carry out?

A. NHS Lothian carried out operations on over 100,000 patients in 2009. (ISD Scotland, national statistics)

Q. How many patients does A&E treat?

A. The Accident and Emergency at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh is the busiest in Scotland, treating 280-320 patients a day (around 9,500 a month), up from 200 in 1991. Some periods are even busier, such as New Year’s Day 2011 when there were 400 patients.  There are also A&E departments at St John’s Hospital, Livingston, and at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children as well as a Minor Injuries Unit at the Western General Hospital

Q. How many staff does NHS Lothian employ?

A. We have approximately 24,000 full and part-time staff. The biggest group is nurses and midwives – around 16,000 full and part time. There are around 2,550 medical staff or doctors and nearly 3,800 professional and technical staff, including allied health professionals. NHS Lothian also has a staff bank, with nearly 6,000 nurses available to fill in for sickness absences or leave. Staffing is the largest call on our funding, around £600 million.

Q. What are CHPs?

A. We are increasingly moving towards community-based healthcare. Community Health Partnerships (CHPs) provide a growing range of services closer to, and in, people’s homes, as well as in community-based hospitals, health centres and clinics, and in some smaller hospitals. CHPs are becoming the basic building blocks of today’s NHS – ensuring that each area has services to suit its population. They also allow the NHS to work with partners, such as councils, to provide joint services.

Q. Is NHS Lothian Health Board different to a trust in England or Wales?

A. NHS services in Scotland are organised differently to those in England and Wales. Scottish health boards provide unified care by bringing all the services in each region together into one, seamless organisation. In England and Wales the primary and acute services are split up. Scotland’s unified system allows patients to move easily throughout the NHS and ensures that the same approaches to care are used throughout the system. It also aims to avoid duplication of services and to cut bureaucracy.

Q. What are NHS Lothian’s aims?

A. Our ambition is to be in the world’s top 25 healthcare systems. We are committed to continually raising standards of care and giving our patients and communities the best service possible.

Q. What standards are you committed to?

A. NHS Lothian is committed to providing the highest possible standards of healthcare, delivering safe, effective, person-centred care and treating patients with compassion, dignity and respect.

Q. What are you doing to modernise?

A. Maintaining high-quality, cost-effective healthcare services in order to keep up with changing times and increasing demands. This is being achieved through our service redesign agenda and building on the many successes of our innovative Lean in Lothian programme.

Q. Is NHS Lothian involved with research?

A. We enjoy close links with the University of Edinburgh and other higher education institutions and research establishments. We support research and development (R&D) and explore, develop and encourage new ways of working, new technology and world-class leadership in the pursuit of ever-higher standards of care and improved efficiency and productivity.

Q. How are you doing on waiting times targets?

A. In 2009/10 NHS Lothian made good progress towards meeting the flagship national target to cut waiting times to 18 weeks from referral to hospital treatment. The target comes into force in December 2011 but milestones have been set to make sure boards are on track. NHS Lothian has achieved or exceeded its interim targets. 

Q. Are you cutting healthcare associated infections?

A. We are. For Clostridium difficile our HEAT target was a 30% reduction in episodes in patients 65 years and over by 2011.  We beat this with a 50% reduction over two years. Between April 2007 and March 2010 the recorded C. difficile episodes in patients 65 and over fell from 102 to 44. The national HEAT target for S. aureus Bacteraemia (Meticillin Sensitive S. aureus and Meticillin Resistant S. aureus) was a cut of 30% by March 2010. NHS Lothian achieved an overall reduction of 28%, and 69% in Meticillin Resistant S. aureus bacteraemia. We aim for a further reduction of 15% by March 2011.

Last Reviewed: 21/06/2012