About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) reports on completed patient pathways that are fully measurable against the 18 weeks Referral to Treatment (RTT) standard (90% of patients being treated within 18 weeks of referral) up to 30 September 2023. A fully measurable patient pathway refers to patient journeys where it has been possible for the NHS Board treating the patient to link all stages of the patient's journey from the initial referral to the start of treatment.

Please note that a patient may be on more than one pathway for treatment and so the number of completed journeys reported is not the same as the number of individual patients treated. In relation to this, the terminology across this and other waiting times publications has been changed to prevent misinterpretation of waiting times statistics.

Main points

During the quarter ending 30 September 2023:

  • 273,144 patient pathways were completed under this standard when the patient involved was ­­either seen at an outpatient appointment clinic, received the results of a diagnostic test, or were admitted for treatment as an inpatient or day case. The number of completed patient pathways increased by 6% (+11,943) from quarter ending September 2022 but remains 12.8% lower than the same quarter in 2019 (313,172). Of all pathways completed, 84.9% (231,836) were fully measurable against the 18-week standard.
  • Despite an overall increase in activity this quarter, there was monthly variation. July saw activity decrease by 11,988 (-12.7%) compared to June, but this was followed by a large increase in activity in August when the number of completed waits rose by over a fifth (+20.2%, +16,624). This was followed by a 6.7% (-6,647) decrease in September.
  • 68.7% (159,304) of all measurable patient pathways were completed within 18 weeks of referral, a slight decrease from 69.6% in the previous quarter. This is lower than the 72.4% (162,706) observed in quarter ending September 2022.
  • There was variation in the change in activity at NHS Board level. The largest percentage increases in completed pathways when comparing to quarter ending September 2022 were in Golden Jubilee University National Hospital (+15.2%, 58), NHS Borders (+11.9%, 784), NHS Fife (+11.2%, 1,809) and NHS Dumfries and Galloway (+11.1%, 575). In contrast, the largest percentage decrease was seen in NHS Orkney (-34.8%, -738).
Image caption Total number of completed patient pathways and percentage of completed patient pathways against the 18 weeks Referral to Treatment (RTT) standard, NHSScotland, September 2019 to September 2023


The 18 Weeks RTT standard applies to the entire patient journey from the initial referral to the start of treatment. Achieving the standard depends on waiting times for diagnostic tests, outpatient appointments, inpatient and day case treatment. 18 Weeks RTT performance is based on adjusted waits for consultant led treatments and fully measurable completed patient journeys.

Please note that data submitted since the onset of the pandemic may not have undergone the usual levels of quality assurance. There are also gaps in the data; NHS Tayside were unable to submit data for the period July 2017 to December 2017. NHS Grampian were also unable to submit data for the period February 2020 to June 2022, however they have recommenced from July 2022 onwards. NHS Western Isles has resubmitted data for April, May, and June 2023, meaning figures for quarter ending June 2023 have been revised in this release.

Further information

Information on the 18 weeks RTT standard and the data collected can be found on the waiting times section of our website. 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, 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 Róisín Farrell 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: 21 March 2024
Was this page helpful?