About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland reports on completed patient pathways covered by the 18 weeks Referral to Treatment (RTT) standard (90% of patients being treated within 18 weeks of referral) up to 30 June 2021.

All Boards have encountered significant pressure on local information and intelligence resources due to the additional demands arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, data submitted since the onset of the pandemic may not have been subjected to the usual levels of quality assurance. NHS Grampian have been unable to submit data since February 2020 and NHS Tayside have been unable to submit data since May 2021. In addition, NHS Lothian have revised previously published figures for March 2021, reducing the number of patients seen in that month by 34.4%. These factors should be taken into consideration when interpreting the statistics shown.

Main points

  • Excluding NHS Grampian and NHS Tayside, the number of patients treated under this standard during the course of the latest quarter rose from 66,025 in April to 77,238 in June. This June figure represents a decrease of 45 (0.1%) from the number treated in March 2021, the highest volume of activity in a single month since the onset of the pandemic, and compares to a pre-pandemic 12-month average of 89,803, down 14% (March 2019 to February 2020).
Image caption Total number of eligible journeys (patients seen) and percentage of measurable waits completed within 18 weeks, NHSScotland, March 2019 to June 2021
Total number of eligible journeys (patients seen) and percentage of measurable waits completed within 18 weeks, NHSScotland, March 2019 to June 2021
  • While there has been a slight decrease in the total number of patients seen when comparing June 2021 to March 2021, this is not replicated across all boards with the majority actually reporting an increase in activity. NHS Fife and NHS Western Isles reported the largest increases of 49.3% and 41.6% respectively. In contrast, NHS Lanarkshire reported a decrease of 26.8%, this follows a significant increase in patients seen by the board during March 2021.
  • 82.2% of the 77,238 patient journeys (excluding NHS Grampian and NHS Tayside) completed during June 2021 were fully measurable against the 18-week standard. Of these, 74.8% of patients were reported as being treated within 18 weeks of referral; this is 0.7% lower than the reported performance in March 2021 and lower than the 12-month average prior to the onset of the pandemic of 79.5%.

Background

The 18 Weeks RTT standard applies to the entire patient journey from the initial referral to the start of treatment. Achieving the standard depends on waiting times for diagnostic tests, new outpatient appointments, inpatient and day case treatment. 18 Weeks RTT performance is based on adjusted waits for consultant led treatments and fully measurable completed patient journeys. PHS produces separate publications for diagnostic tests, new outpatient appointments, inpatient and day case treatment, available on the waiting times page of the Data and Intelligence website (external website).

These statistics continue to be affected by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. There was a dramatic fall in the number of eligible patients recorded as being treated under this standard when the pandemic began and non-urgent services were initially paused. Since then the number treated has been increasing as services re-mobilise.

Further information

The next release of this publication will be 30 November 2021.

General enquiries

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

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

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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: 30 August 2021
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