More than £850m investment to reduce waits across system.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has published a new plan to direct more than £850 million of investment to substantially and sustainably improve NHS waiting times.
The new plan’s immediate focus is on improvements for patients whose treatment is urgent, who have a suspicion of cancer, and those who have waited the longest for an appointment. Steps will be taken to reduce waiting times for outpatient and inpatient appointments and day cases.
The plan sets out how the Scottish Government will take action in three main areas:
• increasing capacity across the system
• increasing clinical effectiveness and efficiency
• designing and implementing new models of care
The plan commits and directs investment of £535 million in frontline spending, and around £120 million in capital, in addition to the ongoing £200 million elective and diagnostic treatment centres programme over the next two and a half years.
For example, this will include £17 million being invested in Forth Valley Royal Hospital, to deliver two theatres by October 2019, bringing additional capacity for 1,500 more joint replacements or equivalent procedures. By June 2019, the hospital will have a second MRI scanner to allow 8,000 more diagnostic examinations per year.
There will also be work to build on the significant additional recruitment and training which is ongoing across the medical, nursing and the allied health professions. A £4 million investment will increase domestic and international recruitment, focusing on GP, nursing, midwifery and consultant specialties with the highest vacancy rates.
In a statement to parliament, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman acknowledged that waiting times performance falls short of her expectations. She thanked NHS and social care staff for their hard work and dedication, and presented the plan to target areas of improvement and raise them to the overall high level of performance across the health service.
Ms Freeman said:
“Over the next 30 months we will deliver this over £850 million plan through phased, focused and decisive action to secure substantial and sustainable improvements to performance. Our central aim is to significantly improve the experience of patients waiting to be seen or treated.
“Meeting these commitments requires work to address existing targets, but it also requires a whole-system approach spanning hospital, primary, community, and social care to really increase sustainable delivery.
“Solutions will be different in different areas of the country and in different specialties – but the drive for improvement will be national in scope. Achieving this will require a focused, intense programme of work that accelerates action that is already underway.”
The plan sets out the aim – by Spring 2021 - to improve performance on outpatients waiting less than 12 weeks to 95%, and for inpatients and day cases under the treatment time guarantee to 100%. Also by Spring 2021 there is an aim for 95% of patients awaiting cancer treatment to be seen within the 62 day standard.
A separate mental health waiting times improvement plan will be published later this year.