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.
New outpatients national standard - 95% of new outpatients waiting no longer than 12 weeks from referral to being seen
- During the quarter ending 31 December 2021, 304,344 patients were seen under this standard. This represents an increase of 5% (+14,391 patients) from the previous quarter ending 30 September and compares to a 1.7% quarter-on-quarter increase between quarters ending 30 June 2021 and 30 September 2021. Although the number of patients seen each quarter continues to rise (the number seen this latest quarter was +24.9% compared to the quarter ending December 2020) the latest figure remains 17.1% lower than the average of 367,236 patients seen during quarters in 2019, prior to the onset of the pandemic.
- Of those seen during the quarter ending 31 December 2021, there was an increase in the number of patients who had waited 12 weeks (84 days) or less to be seen - 208,019 patients compared to 204,406 in the previous quarter. However, this was a slightly smaller percentage of all patients seen, 68.3% compared to 70.5% with the number of those waiting over 12 weeks increasing from 85,547 to 96,325.
- At 31 December 2021, 419,230 patients were waiting to be seen. This represents a slight decrease of 0.4% (-1,541) from the position at 30 September 2021, the first reported decrease in number of patients waiting from one quarter-end to the next since the pandemic began and compares to a 6.4% rise between 30 June 2021 and 30 September 2021. Nevertheless, the waiting list at the latest quarter-end is 35.7% higher than the average at the end of quarters in 2019.
- Of those waiting at 31 December 2021, 194,828 (46.5%) had been waiting 12 weeks or less. This percentage has decreased from 48.5% at 30 September 2021 and is markedly down on the average reported in 2019 (73.3%).
- There was a slight decrease in patients waiting over 52 weeks, down from 7.8% (32,686) at 30 September 2021 to 7.4% (31,050) at 31 December 2021. Of those patients waiting the longest however, there has been an increase in proportion of patients waiting over 91 weeks from 0.7% to 1.5% (6,387, +3,246).
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 December 2021, 44,127 patients were admitted for treatment under this standard. This represents a decrease of 3.9% (-1,772 patients) from the previous quarter ending 30 September and is 37.5% (-26,467) lower than the average of 70,594 patients admitted during quarters in 2019, prior to the onset of the pandemic.
- Of those admitted during the quarter ending 31 December 2021, 69.4% had waited 12 weeks (84 days) or less; slightly lower than both the 70% reported in the previous quarter and the pre-pandemic average of 70.7%.
- At 31 December 2021, 119,584 were waiting to be admitted for treatment. This represents an increase of 12.4% (+13,213) from 30 September 2021 and is 40% (+34,154) higher than the same date last year. When comparing to the average at end of quarters in 2019 the waiting list is 55% higher. This growth reflects that, although both the number of referrals for treatment and the number of admissions have yet to return fully to pre-pandemic levels, the number of referrals each month has often exceeded the number of patients being removed from lists, either because they were admitted for treatment or removed for other reasons.
- Of those waiting at 31 December 2021, 41,328 (34.6%) had been waiting 12 weeks or less. This percentage has decreased from 38% at 30 September 2021 and is markedly down on the 68.7% average reported in 2019.
- There was an increase in the number and percentage waiting over 52 weeks, up from 21.3% (22,657) at 30 September 2021 to 22.7% (27,115) at 31 December 2021. Of those waiting the longest, there has been an increase in the proportion of patients waiting over 91 weeks from 5.8% to 10.5% (12,590, +6,454).
The services involved continue to be affected by COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. In the early stages of the outbreak most non-urgent treatment was paused or reduced and there were fewer referrals to services. Since then services have been remobilising (external website) but capacity is constrained by the requirement for additional infection control measures. In addition, further waves of the virus have slowed the recovery of services due to the need to again pause or reduce services for reasons such as increased staff absence or the need to divert resources because of an increase in unscheduled hospitalisations.
Documents relating to waiting times, including the TTG are available via the waiting times section of the Data and Intelligence website.
The next release of this publication will be 31 May 2022.
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.
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