Scots boards cut waiting list times

20 Nov 08
NHS boards in Scotland have made ‘significant progress’ in reducing waiting times for diagnostic services but there is still scope for better use of resources, a public spending watchdog has found

21 November 2008

By David Scott

NHS boards in Scotland have made 'significant progress' in reducing waiting times for diagnostic services but there is still scope for better use of resources, a public spending watchdog has found.

In a report published on November 20, Audit Scotland said the number of patients waiting more than nine weeks for key radiology and endoscopy diagnostic tests had fallen from 10,638 in July 2006 to just two patients in 2008.

The report stated: 'NHS boards have achieved these reductions by using £50m additional government funding and making longer-term improvements to how they provide services.'

Caroline Gardner, deputy auditor general for Scotland, said: 'The NHS has significantly cut diagnostic waiting times. The challenge now is to continue to improve diagnostic services as the NHS faces shorter waiting times targets. 'A lot of money is spent on diagnostic services and the NHS needs to ensure the efficiency of these high-cost services.'

The report, Review of NHS diagnostic services, said boards had cut waiting times by carrying out additional work, and by making changes to how they managed and delivered the services.

But it added: 'Making further sustainable improvements to achieve the new 18-week referral to treatment target will be challenging.'

The findings follow a study of the efficiency of the services. It focused on eight main diagnostic tests covered by the national waiting times targets and looked at the four 'main disciplines' within laboratory services.

According to Audit Scotland, the services provide more than 87 million procedures and tests a year at a cost of more than £280m.

PFnov2008

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