England/Scotland NHS statistics comparisons: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

Provide any written information held by the Scottish government on the comparability of NHS statistics in England and Scotland. Please provide information held regarding the comparability of a) A&E performance figures and b) waits for treatment*. *This includes but is not limited to elective care, diagnostics, in and outpatients appointments etc.


UK Comparative Waiting Times Group

The information you have requested is available from Government Statistical Service (GSS) which is the organisation holding the publicly available documents which outlines the technical difference between NHS statistics for the four UK countries. These documents can be requested from GSS.Health@ons.gov.uk and a description of the documents can be found on this GSS website. These documents are attached for your convenience to the FOI response.

A&E activity (NHS Digital)

NHS Digital produce an annual official statistics publication on Hospital Accident & Emergency Activity which includes a comparison of 4 hour and 12 hour waits between the four home nations. The latest analysis can be found in the Resources section: Hospital Accident & Emergency Activity 2021-22 - NDRS (digital.nhs.uk)

NHS Digital note that given the different models of service provision across the four nations A&E waiting times comparison is restricted to Type 1 or Major A&E departments within each nation. Whilst this allows a nearer like for like comparison it does not take account of the differing casemix of patients that present at type 1 services which will be influenced by the provision and accessibility of alternative types of A&E. The NHS Digital publication also states that statisticians in all four home nations have previously collaborated as part of the ‘UK Comparative Waiting Times Group’ and produced a document on A&E waiting times.

PHS Website on 18 weeks RTT

PHS state on their website on 18 weeks RTT: “UK Comparisons for Referral to Treatment Waiting Times: Other parts of the UK also have targets for the Referral to Treatment pathway; however, there are differences in how the time period is calculated and different lengths of targets. Further details on other UK targets can be found on their websites; NHS England, NHS Wales and Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland

The English Health Statistics theme groups

There is ongoing work to provide meaningful comparisons of secondary care waiting times across the UK: The English Health Statistics theme groups – Government Analysis Function (civilservice.gov.uk)

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.

UK Comparative Waiting Times AE Updated March 2022
UK Comparative Waiting Times Diagnostics Updated March 2022


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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