NHS Scotland backlog hits 840,000 - as inpatients waiting for more than a year increase by 25%

NHS waiting lists in Scotland have increased, with the number of inpatients waiting more than a year for treatment up by a quarter.

Statistics released by Public Health Scotland on the number of people waiting for outpatient, inpatient or day case treatment - or one of the eight key diagnostic tests - show the figure increased to 840,300 in the quarter up to the end of March.

This is an increase from 824,725 at the end of 2023 - a rise of 1.8%.

Of those, 534,178 were waiting for outpatient treatment - up by 10% from the same point last year and more than double the size of the list before the pandemic.

For inpatient treatment, 156,108 were waiting - a slight decrease from the previous quarter, but up 5.8% from last year and more than double the average waiting times in 2019.

In July 2022, former health secretary Humza Yousaf laid out plans to "eradicate" these delays - with a goal that no one would have to wait more than a year for treatment by September 2024.

But Public Health Scotland says these targets "have yet to be achieved" - as 37,761 patients have now been waiting more than 12 months, a year-on-year rise of 24.2%.

More than 7,000 are still waiting after two years, and 1,369 have been on the list for more than three years.

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Scottish Tory health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane said the backlog was "out of control".

The Scottish government said it was "determined to ensure people receive the treatment they need as soon as possible".

A spokesperson said an investment of £30m is being "targeted" at a series of national and local plans to "reduce the national backlogs that built up throughout the pandemic".

The spokesperson added: "We are working with NHS boards to reduce long waits, including the delivery of the commitments in our £1bn NHS recovery plan to support an increase in inpatient, day case, and outpatient activity, and the creation of our national treatment centres (NTCs) programme - which is the single biggest increase in planned care capacity ever created in NHS Scotland."

Two national treatment centres opened last year in Fife and the Highlands, with two further centres "opening soon" in Forth Valley and at the Golden Jubilee in West Dunbartonshire.

The Scottish government added: "We know there are still unacceptable waits in some specialities, but we are making progress.

"Despite the exceptionally challenging winter period, the level of activity for inpatient and day case patients was at its highest since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the latest quarter; the ninth increase in a row.

"The number of new outpatient attendances (completed waits) was also at its highest since the beginning of the pandemic, with 324,553 patients seen."