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 March 2024. 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 and measure the time from the initial referral to the start of treatment.

Please note that a patient may be on more than one pathway for treatment and the number of completed journeys reported is not the same as the number of individual patients treated

Main points

During the quarter ending 31 March 2024:

  • 281,914 patient pathways were completed under this standard when the patient involved either received the results of a diagnostic test, was seen at an outpatient appointment clinic, or were admitted for treatment as an inpatient or day case. The number of completed patient pathways was 3.6% (+9,797) higher when compared to the quarter ending March 2023, but remains 14.9% lower than the same quarter in 2019 (331,258) which was prior to the COVID-19 emergency measures being introduced.
  • There was variation in the change in activity at NHS Board level. The largest percentage increases in completed pathways when comparing to quarter ending March 2023 were in NHS Shetland (+21%, +211), NHS Borders (+18.9%, +1,265), NHS Forth Valley (+12.2%, +1,834) and NHS Lanarkshire (+11.6%, +3,316). In contrast, decreases were seen in NHS Orkney (-41.3%, -1,002), NHS Dumfries & Galloway (-3.2%, -182), and NHS Great Glasgow & Clyde (-1.6%, -1,212).
  • Despite an overall increase in activity this quarter, there was monthly variation. January 2024 saw activity increase by 14,508 (+18.1%) compared to December 2023, this was followed by a smaller increase in activity in February when the number of completed waits rose by 571 (+0.6%). This was followed by a slight (-3.6%, -3,472) decrease in March.
  • Of all pathways completed, 85.5% (240,962) were fully measurable against the 18-week standard. 65.5% (157,817) of these pathways were completed within 18 weeks of referral, a decrease from 66.5% in the previous quarter. This is also lower than the 67.6% (157,299) observed a year previously in the quarter ending March 2023.
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 March 2024


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, and 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.

Further information

Data about this publication are available from the publication page on 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 August 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 Rob Gibbs at 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: 27 May 2024
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