About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) provides an update on how long patients wait for a first outpatient appointment at Allied Health Professional (AHP) led Musculoskeletal (MSK) services. The Scottish Government has determined that at least 90% of patients should wait no longer than four weeks to be seen from receipt of referral.

The statistics reported in this release are severely constrained by the availability of quality assured data from several NHS Boards (NHS Borders, NHS Fife, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and NHS Lothian) which means that PHS are unable to publish a comprehensive overview of data at a Scotland level.

There are different issues affecting the data for each of these Boards and the metrics that can be reported and some previously published statistics are now known to be incorrect. For 3 NHS Boards (NHS Borders, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and NHS Lothian) the current quarter (ending June 2023) and all time points prior to that are affected.  For NHS Fife, only data prior to 2019 are affected.  PHS is working collaboratively with each NHS Board to resolve the data quality issues and revised data will be published in future releases. Further detail is available in the Data Quality document.

Main points

During the quarter ending 30 June 2023, for the services covered by available data:

  • 62,612 patients were seen at a first outpatient appointment which is similar to the quarter ending 31 March 2023 and an increase of 13.2% from a year ago.
  • 47.5% of patients were seen within the target of four weeks of referral, slightly higher than the previous quarter (45.5%). Of those patients who experienced longer waits, 4.9% waited 24 weeks or more compared to 6.2% in the previous quarter.
  • There were 89,831 referrals to MSK services, 3.3% higher than the previous quarter (86,983 referrals).
Image caption Number of patients seen and how long they waited, April to June 2023


The AHP MSK data collection covers Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Chiropody/Podiatry and Orthotics services. It also covered the NHS24 Musculoskeletal Advice and Triage Service (MATS) service from May 2017 until March 2020.

AHP MSK data are mainly sourced from the national waiting times warehouse with aggregate data submitted by NHS Boards as required. Data gaps and data drawn from a number of sources should be taken into consideration when interpreting the statistics.

The waiting time used for this target is an adjusted waiting time, with adjustments made up to 4 weeks based on the NHSScotland Waiting Times Guidance.

Further information

The next release of this publication will be 19 December 2023.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.ahpmsk@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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