About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland relates to the length of time patients wait to be seen as a new outpatient or admitted for treatment as an inpatient or day case. The latest statistics represent all patients covered by the national standards for these stages of treatment.

A significant data quality issue has arisen in new outpatient records submitted by six Boards due to a problem in a recent software update to their local Patient Management System. While the system provider Intersystems are endeavouring to resolve the matter, Boards have provided PHS with locally sourced aggregated data to support the ongoing publication of new outpatient statistics. Due to multiple sources of data underpinning this release, particular care should be taken when observing trend information. Please see the full report for further detail.

Main points

The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak has had a significant impact on elective care and this is reflected in the statistics shown. 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, 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 and address any backlog of patients waiting for a new outpatient, inpatient or day case appointment.

New outpatients national standard - 95% of new outpatients waiting no longer than 12 weeks from referral to being seen.

  • During the quarter ending 30 September 2020, 192,528 patients were seen. This represents an increase of 46.9% (+61,443) from the quarter ending June 2020 as services began to resume. While the number of patients being seen is on the rise, total activity for the latest quarter was 47.7% (-175,645) lower than the same period last year.
  • Of those patients seen, 72.1% had waited 12 weeks (84 days) or less. This compares to 75% for the previous quarter when activity was low and 76.6% for the quarter ending 30 September 2019.
  • At 30 September 2020, 324,810 patients were waiting to be seen. This represents a significant increase of 20.2% from 30 June 2020 and is 1.9% higher than at 30 September 2019. Of those waiting at 30 September 2020, 46.5% had been waiting 12 weeks or less, an improvement from 29.1% at 30 June but markedly down on the 72.6% reported at the same date last year.
  • As the waiting list size continues to increase when comparing the number waiting at recent month ends, the percentage experiencing longer waits is also increasing. At 30 September 2020, 10.9% (35,514) had been waiting over 39 weeks, up from 5.9% (15,851) at 30 June 2020, of which 3.7% (12,125) had been waiting 52 weeks or more.

Treatment Time Guarantee (TTG) – Following the decision to treat all eligible patients should wait no longer than 12 weeks for treatment as an inpatient or day case

  • During the quarter ending 30 September 2020, 37,926 patients were admitted. This represents an increase of 158.2% (+23,237) from quarter ending June 2020 as services began to resume. While the number of patients seen is gradually increasing month on month, rising from 10,451 in July to 15,165 in September, total activity for the latest quarter was 45.1% (-31,149) lower than the same period last year.
  • Of those patients admitted, 55.7% had waited 12 weeks (84 days) or less. This compares to 81.3% for the previous quarter and 71% for quarter ending 30 September 2019. Half of all patients seen were admitted within 51 days compared to 16 the previous quarter, indicating a widening of service provision beyond urgent care.
  • At 30 September 2020, 85,869 patients were waiting to be admitted, a slight increase of 0.3% from 30 June 2020 and 11.1% higher than at 30 September 2019. Of those waiting, 30% had been waiting 12 weeks or less, an improvement from 17.6% at 30 June 2020 but markedly down on the 68.1% reported at the same date last year.
  • While the waiting list size has remained stable when comparing the number waiting at recent month ends, the percentage of patients experiencing longer waits is increasing. At 30 September 2020, 23.1% (19,839) had been waiting over 39 weeks, up from 11.4% (9,731) at 30 June 2020, of which 10.3% (8,815) had been waiting 52 weeks or more.

Background

Documents relating to waiting times, including the TTG are available via the waiting times section of the Data and Intelligence website.

Documents relating to waiting times, including the TTG are available via the waiting times section of the Data and Intelligence website.

Further information

PHS have developed an animation (external website), with further explanations of how waiting times are calculated.

Open data from this publication are available from the Scottish Health and Social Care Open Data platform (external website).

The next release of this publication will be 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.

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: 14 July 2021
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