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 30 June 2023 and the lengths of wait experienced. 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 shown here and in previous publications do not reflect the actual number of individuals involved. The terminology has therefore been updated to prevent misinterpretation of statistics. Please refer to the full report for further detail.

Main points

Image caption Trend in the waiting list size and percentage of waits ongoing for six weeks or less at month-end, by test, NHSScotland, 30 March 2019 to 30 June 2023

At 30 June 2023:

  • The total waiting list size (the number of ongoing waits) for the eight key tests combined was 152,606. 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 grew slightly, with an extra 39 waits compared to the position at the end of March. This was largely a consequence of increases in the number of ongoing waits for an upper endoscopy (+882), lower endoscopy (+349) and non-obstetric ultrasound (+1,347) offset by decreases in the number of waits for MRI (-1,510) and CT (-982).
  • 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 82% for a barium study.
  • The number of waits that had been ongoing for over 26 weeks increased from 13,670 at the end of March to 14,552 (+6%). Nevertheless, there was a reduction in the number of waits that were ongoing over 52 weeks, reducing from 3,773 to 3,624 (-4%).
  • Radiology tests account for the most waits 26-52 weeks (57%) while endoscopy tests account for the most waits over 52 weeks (97%). However, there is variation between tests. For example, the number of waits for a non-obstetric ultrasound test that had been ongoing over 26 weeks increased by 21% (+779) while those for a CT test increased only slightly by 1% (+9). Similarly, the number of ongoing waits for an upper endoscopy that had been ongoing over 52 weeks increased by 14% (+105), while those for a colonoscopy decreased by 12% (-207).


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

Further background information on NHS Scotland Waiting Times, including diagnostics, can be found in CEL 33 (2012).

Further information

For more information see the Waiting Times section of our website. PHS have developed an animation, with further explanations of how waiting times are calculated. A more detailed report can be accessed via the following link: Diagnostic Tests and Investigations.

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 28 November 2023.

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
Was this page helpful?