About this release

This quarterly release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) relates to the number of ongoing waits for one of eight key diagnostic tests at 31 March 2024 and the lengths of wait experienced so far. The eight key diagnostic tests are upper endoscopy, lower endoscopy (excl. colonoscopy), colonoscopy, cystoscopy, CT scan, MRI scan, barium studies and non-obstetric ultrasound. Please note that individual patients are counted more than once if they are waiting for more than one diagnostic test, so the national statistics released here do not necessarily reflect the actual number of individuals involved. Therefore, the terminology used in the publication is specifically aimed at preventing misinterpretation of statistics. Please refer to the full report for further detail.

Main points

Image caption Trend in ongoing waits and percentage of waits ongoing for six weeks or less at month-end, by test, NHSScotland, 31 March 2019 to 31 March 2024

At 31 March 2024:

  • The total waiting list size (number of ongoing waits) for the eight key tests combined was 150,014. This represents a 4% (+5,750) increase from the previous quarter-end when there were 144,264 ongoing waits but is lower than observed in March 2023 (152,567). However, this figure remains higher than prior to when the COVID-19 pandemic began to significantly impact service provision. For instance, it remains more than two-thirds (70%) higher than at the end of February 2020 when there were 88,301 waits ongoing.
  • This quarterly increase is largely due to CT, as waits for this test notably increased compared to the previous quarter-end by 20% (+4,572), with additional increases in MRI (+7%, +1,888), non-obstetric ultrasound (+1%, +378) and upper endoscopy (+2%, 163). However, not all tests increased, with the largest decrease observed for colonoscopy (-6%, -939), followed by lower endoscopy (-6%, -283).
  • Of these, 53% had not yet exceeded the six-week standard. However, there was variation across tests, with just 30% of waits for a lower endoscopy ongoing for six weeks or less compared to 84% for a barium study.
  • The number of waits that had been ongoing over 26 weeks decreased from 15,249 at the end of December 2023 to 13,898 (-9%). Similarly, there was a decrease in the number of waits that were ongoing over 52 weeks, decreasing from 3,540 to 3,327 (-6%).
  • The proportion of waits ongoing between 26 and 52 weeks are now largely parallel between radiology tests and endoscopy tests, at 50.5% and 49.5% respectively. Still, endoscopy tests account for the largest proportion of waits ongoing over 52 weeks (89%). However, there is variation between tests. For example, the number of waits that had been ongoing over 26 weeks for a non-obstetric ultrasound decreased by 26% (-1,270) compared to December 2023, while those for a CT increased by 9% (+111). Similarly, the number of ongoing waits over 52 weeks for an upper endoscopy decreased by 27% (-125), while those for a cystoscopy increased by 53% (+109).

Further information

Data from this publication are available from the publication page on our website.

Open data from this publication is 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. NHS Performs is 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: 28 May 2024
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