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 30 September 2021, 286,935 patients were seen across NHSScotland. This represents a slight increase of 0.6% (+1,745 patients) from quarter ending 30 June 2021 and compares to an 11.5% increase between quarters ending March 2021 and June 2021. Although the number of patients seen has risen over the last year (+48.7% compared to the quarter ending September 2020), activity remains 21.9% lower than the quarterly average of 367,226 during 2019, prior to the onset of the pandemic.
  • Of those seen during the quarter ending 30 September 2021, 71.1% had waited 12 weeks (84 days) or less. This compares to 73.1% for the previous quarter and 76.7% for those seen in 2019, before the pandemic began.
  • At 30 September 2021, 425,242 patients were waiting to be seen. This represents an increase of 7.4% (+29,150) from 30 June 2021 and is 33.3% (+106,148) higher than the same date in 2020. Compared to the average at the end of quarters in 2019, the waiting list is 37.7% higher. This growth reflects the cumulative effect of referrals continuing to exceed removals from the list, at a time when demand is yet to reach pre-pandemic levels.
  • Of those waiting at 30 September 2021, 48.1% had been waiting 12 weeks or less. This percentage has decreased from 53.4% at 30 June 2021 and is markedly down on the average reported in 2019 (73.3%).
  • While the waiting list size continues to increase, the percentage of patients experiencing waits of 52 weeks and over has decreased. At 30 September 2021, 7.7% (32,930) had been waiting over 52 weeks, down from 8.4% at 30 June 2021. Of those patients waiting the longest however, there has been an increase in the proportion of waits over 78 weeks (from 1.4% to 3.1%, up +7,579).

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 30 September 2021, 45,449 patients were admitted across NHSScotland. This represents a decrease of 11.9% (6,140 patients) from quarter ending 30 June 2021 and is 35.6% (25,145) lower than the quarterly average of 70,594 during 2019, prior to the onset of the pandemic.
  • Of those admitted during the quarter ending 30 September 2021, 70.2% had waited 12 weeks (84 days) or less; higher than the 64.2% reported in the previous quarter and similar to the pre-pandemic average of 70.7% during 2019. It should be recognised that this measure will typically rise when many services are limited to urgent treatment, this is reflected in the increase between quarters ending 30 June and 30 September 2021.
  • At 30 September 2021, 106,496 were waiting to be admitted for treatment. This represents an increase of 9.3% (+9,075) from 30 June 2021 and is 24.5% (+20,961) higher than at the same date last year. Compared to the average at end of quarters in 2019, the waiting list is 38.1% higher. This growth reflects the cumulative effect of referrals continuing to exceed removals from the list, at a time when demand is yet to reach pre-pandemic levels.
  • Of those waiting, 37.5% had been waiting 12 weeks or less, a slight reduction compared to 39.4% at 31 June 2021 and markedly down on the average reported for those waiting at the end of quarters in 2019 (68.7%).
  • While the waiting list size has risen considerably over the last quarter, the percentage of patients experiencing waits over 52 weeks has decreased. At 30 September 2021, 21.4% had been waiting over 52 weeks, down from 23.3% at 30 June 2021, albeit the number has increased slightly to 22,775 (+96). Of those patients waiting the longest, there has been an increase in the proportion of waits over 78 weeks (from 8.6% to 14%, +6,533).

Background

These statistics continue to be affected by COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. Following the early stages of the outbreak when many services were paused or reduced and there were less referrals to services, Boards started to gradually resume services in the summer of 2020 as part of the planned remobilisation of services (external website). However, as the pandemic has evolved with further waves of high infection rates and increased hospitalisations, there continues to be periods where some Boards have to temporarily pause or limit access to non-urgent elective care. This has been evident in the most recent quarter.

Further information

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 22 February 2022.

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: 30 November 2021
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