Scotland’s National Health Service is on track to meeting tough new waiting-time goals for heart patients by the end of the year, according to new data released this week.

The figures indicate that the majority of patients with cardiac problems are now being treated within 16 weeks from GP referral through a Rapid Access Chest Pain Clinic to therapy, showing progress in this entire pathway for the first time, the Scottish Executive said.

The tough, 16-week target for cardiac patients will come into force in December, under a drive to help the Service tackle one of its biggest problems, and marks a vast improvement on the situation just a few years ago, when cardiac patients frequently has to wait for more than a year to get treatment.

End of year target

Public Health Minister Shona Robison said earlier this week that she is confident that new target will be met by the end of the year. Unveiling the figures as she visited the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Robison said she is “encouraged that Boards are making month-on-month improvements in their progress towards meeting the tough 16 week target.”

But she also highlighted her concern at the failure to comply with the six-month waiting time guarantee in the Grampian area. “The waiting time guarantee is there to ensure all patients get the best possible treatment as quickly as possible, so it is a big disappointment when breaches are reported.”

“It is clear that the breaches in [the] figures are focussed in a specific speciality where a short-term problem has arisen. This is being addressed as a matter of urgency.”

On a more positive note, Robison stressed “good performances in relation to hidden waiting lists - down nearly 30% on a year ago - and on the drive to see patients attending A&E being treated, transferred or discharged within four hours now at 96% as against 84% in June last year.”