About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland reports on completed patient pathways that are fully measurable against the 18 weeks Referral to Treatment (RTT) standard (90% of patients being treated within 18 weeks of referral) up to 30 September 2022. A fully measurable patient pathway refers to patient journeys where it has been possible for the NHS Board treating the patient to link all stages of the patient's journey from the initial referral to the start of treatment.

All NHS 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. There are also gaps in the data; NHS Tayside were unable to submit data for the period May 2021 to June 2022 and NHS Grampian were unable to submit data for the period February 2020 to June 2022, both have recommenced from July 2022 onwards. This should be taken into consideration when interpreting the statistics shown.

Main Points

  • 86% of the patient journeys completed during this quarter were fully measurable against the 18-week standard. Of these, 72.5% of patients were reported as being treated within 18 weeks of referral, which is 1.1% higher than quarter ending June 2022, when NHS Grampian and NHS Tayside data was unavailable, but lower than the 78% reported during quarter ending September 2019, prior to the pandemic.
  • Across NHSScotland, 261,505 patients were treated under this standard during quarter ending 30 September 2022. The number of patients treated increased by 12,133 (5.8%) from the previous quarter, when excluding NHS Grampian and NHS Tayside for comparison purposes.
  • Including NHS Grampian and NHS Tayside, 76,750 patients were treated in July, increasing to 94,841 in August before decreasing to 89,914 in September (see below chart). This quarterly total represents a 16.5% decrease when compared to the 313,131 patients treated during quarter ending September 2019, prior to the pandemic.
  • There was variation in percentage of completed patient pathways at NHS Board level. The largest percentage increase in patients seen, when comparing to the previous quarter, was in NHS Shetland (+25.2%, 304 patients). In contrast, the largest percentage decrease was seen in NHS Dumfries & Galloway (-7.0%, 387 patients).

Total number of completed patient pathways and percentage of measurable waits against the 18 weeks Referral to Treatment (RTT) standard, NHSScotland, September 2019 to September 2022.


These statistics continue to be affected by COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. On 30 April 2022, NHSScotland was stood down from emergency footing, however COVID-19 is still affecting provision and availability of services with waves of infection resulting in reduced capacity, for example due to increased staff absence and higher demand from emergency departments and inpatient wards. During these periods there is often a requirement to prioritise and treat only those patients with the most urgent clinical needs.

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.

Further information

Information on the 18 weeks RTT standard and the data collected can be found on the waiting times section of our website. Open data from this publication are available from the Scottish Health and Social Care Open Data platform.

The next release of this publication will be 28 February 2023.

NHS Performs

A selection of information from this publication is included in NHS Performs, a website that brings together a range of information on how hospitals and NHS Boards within NHSScotland are performing.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please contact 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: 21 November 2022
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