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 31 December 2022. 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.

All NHS Boards have encountered significant pressure on local information and intelligence resources due to the additional demands arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, data submitted since the onset of the pandemic may not have been subjected to 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 and NHS Grampian were unable to submit data for the period February 2020 to June 2022, however they have recommenced from July 2022 onwards. This should be taken into consideration when interpreting the statistics shown.

Main Points

  • 86.3% of the patient journeys completed during this quarter were fully measurable against the 18-week standard. Of these, 69.4% of patients were reported as being treated within 18 weeks of referral, which is 3.0% lower than quarter ending September 2022. The percentage of patients who met the standard remains significantly lower than the 78.0% reported during the quarter ending December 2019, prior to the beginning of the pandemic.
  • Across NHSScotland, 265,919 patients were treated under this standard during quarter ending 31 December 2022. The number of patients treated increased by 4,413 (1.7%) from the previous quarter, however it remains 14.6% lower than the 311,310 patients treated during quarter ending December 2019.
  • A noticeable monthly fluctuation was seen during this quarter, with 87,373 patients treated in October, increasing to 100,243 in November before decreasing to 78,303 in December (see below chart). The fluctuation in activity seen during this quarter is due to the winter holiday period during October and December.
  • There was variation in percentage of completed patient pathways at NHS Board level. The largest percentage increase in patients seen, when comparing to the previous quarter, was in NHS Grampian (+9.7%, 1,793 patients), excluding NHS Golden Jubilee for comparison purposes. In contrast, the largest percentage decrease was seen in NHS Forth Valley (-6.6%, 1,024 patients).

Total number of completed patient pathways and percentage of measurable waits against the 18 weeks Referral to Treatment (RTT) standard, NHSScotland, December 2019 to December 2022


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

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, new 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.

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 30 May 2023.

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 email phs.waitingtimes@phs.scot.

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If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

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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
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