NHS Lothian chalks up waiting times success

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NHS Lothian hit a key Scottish Executive target on waiting times a full year early despite a record workload.

New internal figures show that no patients in Lothian requiring hospital treatment, with treatment guarantees, were waiting for more than 18 weeks at the end of December 2006.

The Scottish Executive has asked health boards to hit this mark by the end of December 2007.

More than 2,000 patients waited more than 18 weeks for inpatient treatment in April 2005, highlighting the scale of the achievement.

The overall inpatient waiting list size, excluding patients with availability status codes, has dropped by 23% at the end of November 2006 compared to May 2005.

Bob Anderson, interim chairman, NHS Lothian, said:

"This success is all down to the hard work of our staff in improving our services so that patients can benefit from shorter waits before they can receive treatment. We know no-one likes to be kept waiting and will continue to work hard to cut delays in non-emergency hospital treatment for patients."

Professor James Barbour, Chief Executive, NHS Lothian, said:

"We had said we would hit this key target a year early and we have now delivered on that promise. We are now seeing and treating more people than ever, more quickly than ever, and are continuing to make more improvements for patients."

This success follows a similar achievement in 2005, when Scottish Executive targets to reduce waits for treatment to 6 months were also hit a full year earlier than the Executive deadline.

The total number of people waiting for more than 18 weeks for outpatient treatment, with treatment guarantees, has almost halved over the last 15 months. There were 3,474 people waiting more than 18 weeks at the end of November 2006 compared to over 7,000 in this position at the end of September 2005.

These achievements are disclosed in papers to be discussed by the board of NHS Lothian at its meeting on Wednesday 24th January.