About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) contains 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.

Main points

During the quarter ending 31 December 2021:

  • 59,578 patients were seen at a first outpatient appointment at an AHP-led clinic for MSK conditions, a decrease of 2.5% compared with the quarter ending 30 September 2021. This remains fewer than the 79,938 patients seen on average during the quarters in 2019.
Image caption Patients seen and proportion within 4 weeks January 2019 – December 2021
  • 54.4% of patients were seen within the target of four weeks of referral, a small increase from the previous quarter (52.7%), but higher than 45.3% of patients in 2019.
  • 82,318 patients were referred to MSK services, a decrease of 11.5% compared with the previous quarter and still fewer than the average of 110,042 referrals received in quarters in 2019.
  • There were 63,639 patients waiting compared to 64,896 patients at 30 September 2021. This is 11.5% fewer than the 71,917 patients who were waiting on average at quarter ends during 2019.


The statistics presented in this release are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has changed referral and treatment patterns within these services.

The AHP MSK data collection covers services for Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Chiropody/Podiatry, Orthotics and the Musculoskeletal Advice and Triage Service (MATS) (external website) operated by NHS24. The MATS helpline has been suspended since March 2020, therefore this data is excluded from the publication report and summary in order to present a consistent trend.

AHP MSK data is sourced from the national waiting times warehouse with the following exceptions for this release. Local aggregate data for January - September 2020 is included for NHS Borders as their data remains affected by a software problem with their Patient Management System (PMS). NHS Fife Chiropody/Podiatry data has been excluded as technical issues prevent submissions from the TIARA system. NHS Western Isles Occupational Therapy data has been excluded as national reporting is not supported by the Morse PMS

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 (external website).

Further information

The next release of this publication will be 21 June 2022.

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

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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: 13 June 2022
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