About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland reports on the length of time patients waited for a first appointment at chronic pain and pain psychology clinics. These clinics are part of a multi-disciplinary service for chronic pain assessment and management.

Main points

Chronic pain clinics

  • In the quarter ending 31 December 2020, 3,879 patients were referred to a chronic pain clinic. This compares to 3,168 patients in the quarter ending 30 September 2020, an increase of 22.4%, and 5,184 in the quarter ending 31 December 2019.
  • In the quarter ending 31 December 2020, 2,108 patients were seen at a chronic pain clinic. This compares to 1,397 patients in the quarter ending 30 September 2020, an increase of 50.9%, and 3,154 in the quarter ending 31 December 2019.
  • Of the 2,108 patients seen during the quarter ending 31 December 2020, 50.9% (1,073) waited 12 weeks or less to be seen, 10.8% (228) waited more than 12 but less than 24 weeks, 29.3% (618) waited more than 24 but less than 51 weeks and 9.0% (189) waited 52 weeks or more.
  • At 31 December 2020, 3,334 patients were waiting to be seen for their first appointment. This compares to 4,330 patients in the quarter ending 30 September 2020, a reduction of 23% and 4,769 in the quarter ending 31 December 2019.
  • Of the 3,334 patients waiting at 31 December 2020, 57.4% (1,914) had been waiting 12 weeks or less to be seen, 19.3% (644) more than 12 but less than 24 weeks, 16.3% (543) more than 24 but less than 51 weeks and 7.0% (233) 52 weeks or more.
Image caption Distribution of wait for patients waiting for chronic pain clinic appointments at 30 September 2020 and 31 December 2020
  • In the quarter ending 31 December 2020, 2,370 patients were removed from waiting lists for reasons other than being seen. Almost half of these were in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde where Active Clinical Referral Triage is being used as part of an opt in process. Identified patients are removed from the pain service allowing them to opt-in to the new pathway of “Pain Early Information Sessions” as the start of therapeutic treatment. They have 4 weeks to reply and opt in to these sessions or choose to opt-out and attend a new individual appointment.

Pain psychology clinics

Ten of the eleven NHS Boards providing pain psychology clinics, submit either a full or partial dataset for this publication. Information on data completeness is available in the data tables.

  • In the quarter ending 31 December 2020, 412 patients were referred to a pain psychology clinic. This compares to 254 patients in the quarter ending 30 September 2020, an increase of 62.2% due in part to the resumption of services in NHS Grampian, and 586 in the quarter ending 31 December 2019.
  • In the quarter ending 31 December 2020, 224 patients were seen at a pain psychology clinic. This compares to 197 patients in the quarter ending 30 September 2020, an increase of 13.7%, and 292 in the quarter ending 31 December 2019. Almost all of these patients were seen in NHS Lothian.
  • At 31 December 2020, 570 patients were waiting to be seen for their first appointment. This compares to 421 patients in the quarter ending 30 September 2020, an increase of 35.4%, and 700 at in the quarter ending 31 December 2019.

Background

Chronic pain is pain that carries on for longer than 12 weeks despite medication or treatment. Further information can be found on the Scottish Access Collaborative (external website) website.

The data presented here have been adjusted for periods of patient unavailability.

The data presented in this release continue to be impacted by measures put in place to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. After being temporarily paused in March 2020, chronic pain services started to resume in June as part of the planned remobilisation of services (external website). In September, a Framework for Recovery of NHS Pain Management Services (external website) was published with further guidance on the resumption and continuation of services.

Further information

The next release of this publication will be 8 June 2021.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.waitingtimes@phs.scot.

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

Requesting other formats and reporting issues

If you require publications or documents in other formats, please email phs.otherformats@phs.scot.

To report any issues with a publication, please email phs.generalpublications@phs.scot.

Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 28 June 2021
Was this page helpful?