About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) 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. Please note that individual patients are counted more than once if they are waiting to attend more than one scheduled hospital appointment or admission, so the official statistics shown here and in previous publications do not reflect the actual number of individuals involved. Consequently, figures for the number of ongoing waits of patients waiting for a new outpatient attendance and those waiting for treatment as either an inpatient or day case should not be added together to determine the proportion of the total population waiting for these types of care.

Main points

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

  • During the quarter ending September 2023, 308,497 new outpatient waits were completed when the patient involved was seen at their outpatient clinic. This represents an increase of 5,496 (+1.8%) attendances from the previous quarter and is 2.3% higher than the same quarter last year.
  • Of these waits, 195,439 (63.4%) were completed in 12 weeks or less, down from 200,217 (66.1%) in the previous quarter. The number of waits over 12 weeks increased from 102,784 to 113,058 during the same period.
  • At 30 September 2023, there were 525,654 patient waits that were still ongoing, an increase (+2.2%, +11,267) compared to the end of the previous quarter. There has been an upward trend in this statistic since COVID-19 began to impact on planned care in March 2020. The total waiting list size is now 10.5% higher than at the same date last year and has increased more than two-fold (+269,237) since 31 March 2020.
  • In July 2022 the Scottish Government (SG) announced new targets to eradicate long waits. In respect of new outpatient appointments the targets were to eradicate waits over two years (104 weeks) by the end of August 2022, those over 18 months (78 weeks) by the end of December 2022 and those over a year (52 weeks) by the end of March 2023. Although these targets have yet to be achieved there have been some reductions in long waits when comparing to the position at the end of June 2022. Specifically, there were 862 (-1,902) waits that had been ongoing over 104 weeks at 30 September 2023 and 6,187 (-2,667) over 78 weeks, although the latter has increased over the latest quarter. 40,052 waits over 52 weeks represents an increase of 4,452 (+12.5%) since the target was announced.

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 quarter ending September 2023, 59,416 patient waits under this guarantee ended when the patient involved was admitted as an inpatient or day case for their intended treatment. This represents a slight increase of 212 (+0.4%) admissions from the previous quarter and is 10% higher than the same quarter last year.
  • Of these waits, 33,339 (56.1%) were completed in 12 weeks or less, down slightly from 33,613 (56.8%) in the previous quarter. There were 26,077 waits over 12 weeks, 486 more than in the previous quarter.
  • At 30 September 2023 there were 151,093 waits for treatment that were still ongoing, an increase of 1% (+1,478) compared to the end of the previous quarter. The rate of growth in the waiting list size has slowed in recent quarters but the number of ongoing waits is 6.9% higher than at the same date last year and is 94.8% higher than the average at the end of quarters in 2019 (+73,511), prior to when the COVID-19 pandemic began to impact on planned care services.
  • One of three targets announced by the SG in July 2022 with respect to eradicating long waits for treatment as an inpatient or day case was to eradicate waits over 18 months (78 weeks) by the end of September 2023. There were however 17,812 waits over 18 months at 30 September 2023, which represents an increase of 3.8% (+658) from the previous quarter end and a minor decrease of four waits since the targets were announced. Of these waits, 7,078 (-2,455 since the target was announced) had been ongoing over two years and 1,432 for more than three years.

Background

Documents relating to waiting times, including the TTG are available via the waiting times section of the website (external website).

These statistics continue to be affected by COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. 

Further information

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 27 February 2024.

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 contact Stuart Kerr at 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: 20 November 2023
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