About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland relates to the length of time patients wait to be seen as a new outpatient or admitted for treatment as an inpatient or day case. The latest statistics represent all patients covered by the national standards for these stages of treatment.

Main points

New outpatients national standard - 95% of new outpatients waiting no longer than 12 weeks from referral to being seen

  • During the quarter ending 31 March 2021, 258,269 patients were seen. This represents an increase of 5.9% (+14,339) from the quarter ending December 2020. While the number of patients being seen is on the rise, total activity for the latest quarter was 20.4% (-66,003) lower than the same quarter in 2020.
  • Of those patients seen, 71.5% had waited 12 weeks (84 days) or less. This compares to 71.8% for the previous quarter and 76.9% for the quarter ending 31 March 2020.
  • At 31 March 2021, 354,782 patients were waiting to be seen. This represents an increase of 4.2% from 31 December 2020 and is 14.1% higher than at 31 March 2019, before the pandemic began. Compared to 31 March 2020, the number waiting is much higher (+37.1%) but note this is partly due to the temporary drop in those waiting that occurred just after the pandemic started. Of those waiting at 31 March 2021, 48.1% had been waiting 12 weeks or less, a slight improvement from 47.7% at 31 December 2020 but markedly down on the 74.4% reported at the same date in 2020.
  • As the waiting list size continues to increase, the percentage of patients experiencing longer waits is also increasing. At 31 March 2021, 13.5% (47,884) had been waiting over 52 weeks or more, up from 7% (23,928) at 31 December 2020.

Treatment Time Guarantee (TTG) – Following the decision to treat all eligible patients should wait no longer than 12 weeks for treatment as an inpatient or day case

  • During the quarter ending 31 March 2021, 36,582 patients were admitted for treatment. This represents a decrease of 20.4% (-9,368) from the quarter ending December 2020 and 43.4% (-28,096) lower than in the same quarter in 2020.
  • Of those patients admitted, 71.5% had waited 12 weeks (84 days) or less. This compares to 61% for the previous quarter and 68.3% for quarter ending 31 March 2020. It should be noted that the improvement in performance in the latest quarter will be partly influenced by the pausing of some non-urgent treatment and the prioritisation of those with urgent clinical needs in response to the latest upsurge in Covid-19 cases, particularly during the months of January and February.
  • At 31 March 2021, 94,781 patients were waiting to be admitted, an increase of 10.5% from 31 December 2020, 19.6% higher than at 31 March 2020 and 25.2% higher than at 31 March 2019. Of those waiting, 34.7% had been waiting 12 weeks or less, a slight reduction from 37.4% at 31 December 2020 but markedly down on the 64.5% reported at the same date in 2020.
  • The percentage of patients experiencing longer waits is also increasing. At 31 March 2021, 29.8% (28,203) had been waiting 52 weeks or more, up from 17.6% (15,128) at 31 December 2020.

Background

These statistics continue to be affected by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. During the early stage of the outbreak many services were paused or reduced and there were also less referrals to services. Boards started to resume relevant services, from June 2020 but a second wave of cases emerged in the autumn and as the number of hospitalisations escalated during the winter months some Boards temporarily paused non-urgent elective care again.

Documents relating to waiting times, including the TTG are available via the waiting times section of the Data and Intelligence website.

Further information

PHS have developed an animation (external website), with further explanations of how waiting times are calculated.

Open data from this publication are available from the Scottish Health and Social Care Open Data platform (external website).

The next release of this publication will be 31 August 2021.

NHS Performs

A selection of information from this publication is included in NHS Performs (external website). 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 email 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: 14 July 2021
Was this page helpful?