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Why is this National Indicator important?
A key concern for patients and NHS Scotland alike is the wait between referral from primary care to the start of any necessary hospital treatment. Reducing this wait is one of the top priorities of Government.
Getting access to outpatient assessment, diagnostic tests and inpatient care as quickly as possible is important as, in many cases, this is likely to have an impact on the health outcomes of patients. Faster access also reduces stress for the individuals who require these services and for their families. Reducing backlogs and queues also leads to greater efficiency across the range of services involved, as well as a better health care experience for patients. It must be remembered that many patients, such as emergencies, are seen and treated right away, without ever having to wait.
What will influence this National Indicator?
- Health of the Scottish population, and the effect of interventions to improve health.
- Provision of services in primary and secondary sectors, sufficient to meet demand and effects of shifting the balance of care.
- Managing referrals to ensure appropriate care pathways are in place.
- Behaviour of patients in attending clinics and communication between clinical teams and patients.
- Improving processes and efficiency to reduce bottlenecks and backlogs.
- Higher quality of healthcare interventions resulting in less follow-up or readmission.
What is the Government's role?
The Government provides direction and leadership to healthcare providers: NHS Boards; supporting agencies and voluntary sector organisations. This includes a governance framework for delivery of reduced waiting times and quality improvement standards.
It also manages the delivery of reduced waiting times against established targets, for example HEAT (Health Improvement, Efficiency, Access, Treatment) and QIS (Quality Improvement Scotland standards), and to advise ministers and the public of progress.
The Government will also establish national programmes where these would provide support and add value to the work of healthcare providers in reducing waiting times.
How are we performing?
In September 2011, 89.8% of patient journeys for which an 18 Weeks Referral To Treatment (18 Weeks RTT) waiting time could be measured were reported as being within 18 weeks. The figures for July and August 2011 were 89.4% and 89.7%, respectively . The figure for June 2011 was 89.7%.
NHS Boards aim to achieve annual milestones for reducing inpatient or day case waiting times culminating in delivery of an 18 week referral to treatment time from December 2011. The key elements of overall referral to treatment times are; first outpatient appointment waiting times, diagnostic tests waiting times and inpatient and day case waiting times. Information relating directly to the 18 week RTT target was published for the first time in May 2011.
This is the third publication of 18 Weeks RTT statistics. These data are still at an early stage of development. NHS Boards are working with ISD and the Scottish Government toimprove the consistency and completeness of these data.
Source: ISD Scotland, National Waiting Times Data Warehouse
View data on waiting times
The change in the percentage of patient journeys (for which an 18 Weeks RTT waiting time could be measured) that were reported as being within 18 weeks between the most recent month and the corresponding month from the previous quarter (eg change from June to September):
Performance Improving: An increase of 1 percentage point or more from the previous quarter.
Performance Maintaining: Variation of less than 1 percentage point from the previous quarter.
Performance Worsening: A decrease of 1 percentage point or more from the previous quarter.
For information on general methodological approach, please click here.
Scotland Performs Technical Note
Statistics Topic Page
Who are our partners?
Territorial and Special NHS Boards
Scottish Health Council
Royal Colleges of Health
Scottish Partnership Forum
Voluntary Sector healthcare providers
Related Strategic Objectives
Safer and Stronger
Wealthier and Fairer