Reducing planned waiting times

£4m fresh investment to support reform

An initiative to cut waiting times and improve the way planned care services are managed is to be rolled out across Scotland thanks to £4m funding.

The ‘Access Collaborative Programme’ is a different way of bringing patients, clinicians, and other NHS staff together to look at ways patients can receive timely and accessible care.

A key focus will be on ensuring patients won’t be asked to travel unnecessarily and securing better access to specialists across the country through methods such as consultations with clinicians over secure virtual networks.

The programme will reduce planned waiting times by improving communications between staff working in the community and in hospitals to identify the right clinician and treatment, and streamlining patient care to minimise or eliminate unnecessary processes.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said:

“We’re committed to delivering the investment and reform necessary to ensure our NHS evolves to meet the changing needs of the people of Scotland. This new £4 million programme will help deliver the infrastructure  needed to do just that.

“Not only will patients receive a better all-round standard of treatment, but it will reduce the pressure felt on services and waiting times.”

Professor Derek Bell, Chair of the Academy of Royal Colleges, who will lead the Access Collaborative, said:

“Demand for acute care services is outstripping the capacity to deliver services in virtually all developed health services across the world – indeed all UK health systems are struggling to meet growing demand.

“In Scotland over the last two years, overall performance in emergency care services has been consistently better than elsewhere in the UK. This is down to the innovative framework and principles jointly commissioned by the Scottish Government and professional bodies like the Royal Colleges delivering patient benefit.

“An elective access collaborative programme based on the key principles we’ve identified will address the significant growing pressures in elective and diagnostic service, add value to health care and improve patient care.”


 Health Secretary Shona Robison will be visiting the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, where she will meet a patient who had been treated at the Virtual Fracture Clinic. This treatment centre is an example of the innovations being supported by the Access Collaborative. It allows clinicians to undertake telephone interviews with patients using their X-ray results, reducing unnecessary treatment for simple, but debilitating injuries, empowering emergency departments to manage straightforward injuries, and improving access to specialist orthopaedic care when it was most needed.

The key principles of the Access Collaborative programme are:

  • Patients shouldn’t be asked to travel unless there is a clear clinical benefit and any changes should increase the capacity and sustainability of the workload for primary, secondary and social care in a balanced way.
  • All referrals should be either vetted by a consultant/senior decision maker or “processed" via an agreed pathway/protocol.
  • Referral and “destination” pathways, including patient “self-management” options, should be clear and published for all to see.
  • Each hospital and referral system should have a joint and clear understanding of demand and capacity and how this matches with unscheduled care pathways and capacity.
  • Clear understanding of access to diagnostics as part of Pathway Management.
  • Improve metrics including how we record and measure virtual/telehealth/tech enabled care.


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