About this release

This quarterly release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) relates to the number of patients waiting for one of eight key diagnostic tests at 30 September 2022 and the time they have waited. The eight key diagnostic tests are upper endoscopy, lower endoscopy (excl. colonoscopy), colonoscopy, cystoscopy, CT scan, MRI scan, barium studies and non-obstetric ultrasound. 

Main points

Trend in the number of patients waiting and percentage of patients waiting six weeks or less at month-end, split by test type, NHSScotland, 31 March 2019 to 30 September 2022

At 30 September 2022:

  • 159,945 patients were waiting to be seen for one of the eight key diagnostic tests, an increase of 2% from the end of June 2022 and 27% from the end of September 2021.
  • When comparing to pre-pandemic levels, the combined waiting list size is 83% higher than at the end of September 2019 prior to the onset of the pandemic.
  • 48% had been waiting six weeks or less (42 days) for one of the eight key tests, a slight increase from 30 June 2022 but a decrease from 58% at 30 September 2021.
  • There is notable variation across test types and NHS Boards, ranging from 26% to 94% for an endoscopy and 36% to 92% for a radiology test.
  • Of the 33,489 patients waiting for an endoscopy, 39% had been waiting six weeks or less compared to 37% in June 2022, while 14% had been waiting 52 weeks or over, compared to 16% in June 2022; 70% of patients were within the six-week target in quarter-ending September 2019.
  • 126,456 patients were waiting for a radiology test, and of this, over 50% had been waiting six weeks or less, and 6% had been waiting 26 weeks or over. Since summer 2021, there have been consistent decreases in percentage of those waiting six weeks or less, and a general rise in patients waiting longer than 26 weeks.

Background

These statistics continue to be affected by COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. On 30 April 2022, NHSScotland 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 test only those patients with the most urgent clinical needs.

Further background information on NHS Scotland Waiting Times, including diagnostics, can be found in CEL 33 (2012).

Further information

For more information see the Waiting Times section of our website. PHS have developed an animation, with further explanations of how waiting times are calculated. A more detailed report can be accessed via the following link: Diagnostic Tests and Investigations.

Open data from this publication is 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. NHS Performs is 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.

Media enquiries

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

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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: 21 November 2022
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