About this release

This release relates to the number of patients waiting for one of eight key diagnostics tests and investigations and the time they have waited. The eight key tests and investigation are upper endoscopy, lower endoscopy (excl. colonoscopy), colonoscopy, cystoscopy, CT scan, MRI scan, barium studies and non-obstetric ultrasound.

Main points

Note the statistics presented are affected by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak. Early on in the outbreak many services were paused or reduced and there were also fewer referrals to services. As Scotland moved into Phase 2 of the ‘lockdown’ from 19 June, NHS Boards started to resume services as part of the planned remobilisation of services (external website). Since then, demand has gradually increased and national and local initiatives have been put in place to increase capacity where possible, to address any backlog of patients waiting for a diagnostic test.

At 30 September 2020:

  • 102,716 patients were waiting to be seen for the eight key diagnostic tests. This represents an increase of 4.2% (+4,148 patients) from 30 June 2020 and is 17.5%, (+15,292) higher than at 30 September 2019. Of those waiting for a test, 53.3% had been waiting six weeks or less (42 days), compared to 35.4% at 30 June 2020 and 82.3% at 30 September 2019.
  • 32,769 patients were waiting for an endoscopy test, an increase of 9.5% from 30 June 2020 and 1% higher than 30 September 2019. Of those waiting, 28.6% had been waiting six weeks or less, an improvement from 22.8% at 30 June 2020 but markedly down on the 70.4% reported at the same date last year.
  • The percentage who had been waiting over 13 weeks for an endoscopy test decreased from 63.9% at 30 June 2020 to 56.2%, of which 13,101 (40%) were waiting over 26 weeks and 655 (2.0%) over 52 weeks.
  • 69,947 patients were waiting for a radiology test, an increase of 1.9% from June 2020 and 4.9% higher than 30 September 2019. Of those waiting, 64.9% had been waiting six weeks or less, an improvement from 40.9% at 30 June 2020, but down on the 85.9% reported at the same date last year.
  • The percentage who had been waiting over 13 weeks for a radiology test decreased from 44.5% at 30 June 2020 to 16.1%, of which 4,828 (6.9%) were waiting over 26 weeks and 179 (0.3%) over 52 weeks.
  • The greatest reduction in the number of patients who had been waiting over 6 weeks was reported for MRI scans, dropping from 11,766 at 30 June 2020 to 3,541. In addition to increased local capacity in some Boards, the decrease in number waiting is partly due to six MRI vans being rotated around Scotland, targeting areas of higher demand.
Image caption Trend in the percentage of patients waiting 6 weeks or less at month end, split by test type, NHS Scotland, 30 September 2018 to 30 September 2020

Background

The following document relates to waiting times, including Diagnostics:

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.

The next release of this publication will be in February 2021. 

NHS Performs

A selection of information from this publication is included in NHS Performs (external website). 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 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: 15 July 2021
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