About this release

Revised 6 December 2023: An error was identified with the raw data extract used to populate the Diagnostic Waiting Times report for quarter ending 30 September 2023. The changes to the Diagnostic Waiting Times report are outlined in the below Revisions Statement. Please note that the accompanying publication tables and open data have also been revised. This issue affects only NHSScotland and NHS Lothian figures in July and August 2023. 

This quarterly release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) relates to the number of ongoing waits for one of eight key diagnostic tests at 30 September 2023 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, 30 March 2019 to 30 September 2023

At 30 September 2023:

  • The total waiting list size (the number of ongoing waits) for the eight key diagnostic tests combined was 151,651. This figure remains much higher than prior to when the COVID-19 pandemic began to impact service provision in March 2020. For instance, at the end of February 2020 there were 88,301 ongoing waits.
  • The list size decreased by less than 1% (955) compared to 30 June 2023, due largely to a decrease of 1,353 in the number of ongoing waits across all four endoscopy tests. This was offset by an increase of 398 in the number of ongoing waits for a radiology test, particularly CT (+365) and non-obstetric ultrasound (+172).
  • Of these, 50% had not exceeded the six-week standard. However, there was variation across tests, with 25% of waits for a lower endoscopy ongoing for six weeks or less compared to 90% for a barium study.
  • The number of waits that had been ongoing over 26 weeks increased from 14,552 at the end of June to 16,459 (+13%). Similarly, there was a rise in the number of waits that were ongoing over 52 weeks, increasing slightly from 3,624 to 3,628 (<1%).
  • Radiology tests account for the most waits 26-52 weeks (62%) while endoscopy tests account for the most waits over 52 weeks (92%). However, there is variation between tests. For example, the number of waits for a non-obstetric ultrasound that had been ongoing over 26 weeks increased by 44% (+1,924) compared to the previous quarter-end, while those for a CT decreased by 9% (-108). Similarly, the number of ongoing waits for a cystoscopy that had been ongoing over 52 weeks increased slightly by 3% (+8), while those for an upper endoscopy decreased by 18% (-148).

Further information

For more information see the Waiting Times section of 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 February 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 Maïana Sanjuan 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
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