A new report, NHS Waiting Times - Stage of Treatment, has highlighted the growing issues in Scottish hospitals, such as waiting times.

The official figures show that the Scottish Government’s Treatment Time Guarantee was only met for 68.4% of patients in the first three months of 2019, and that only 77.3% were seen within 18 weeks under the referral to treatment standard.

Overall performance has worsened from the 72.9% recorded in the first three months of 2018, falling to the lowest level since the legally binding guarantee was introduced in October 2012.

Professor Derek Bell of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh spoke out against the worsening figures, saying that: “On treatment waiting times standards, there remains work to be done to achieve The Scottish Government’s targets. In particular, we note that the percentage of inpatients being seen within the 12-week treatment time guarantee fell from 75.6% to 68.4%. Waiting for treatment can be a particularly stressful time for patients.

He continued to explain that doctors across the Scottish NHS are working hard to deliver the quality treatment standard for patients, but stated that “medical staff require more support if they are going to have a realistic chance of matching treatment times targets. 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.

“A further increase in medical school places will help in the longer term, particularly for rural and remote students, who are more likely to work locally once they qualify. This is important as remote and rural areas often struggle to recruit medical staff more than urban areas. As a Royal College representing the views of thousands of doctors across the UK, we are keen to feed into this process and do so regularly.

“On waiting times targets more generally, we think that they are a useful barometer of how the Scottish NHS if performing. We do not advocate a move towards scrapping performance targets like in England, where the UK Government are trialling a new system which would take NHS England away from four hour A&E targets.”

The figures also showed that worryingly, drug-related stays in Scotland’s hospitals have quadrupled over the last 20 years, having gone up from 51 to 199 per 100,000 people.