NHSScotland waiting times guidance: November 2023

This guidance replaces the previous waiting times guidance (2012) to support health boards in the delivery of the national waiting times standards. The guidance will continue to make sure that patients who are on waiting lists are managed fairly and consistently across NHSScotland.

Annex 2 – Treatment Time Guarantee Patient Communication Template

Dear [addressee]

Planned Care - Addition to [speciality] [inpatient/day case] waiting list

I am writing to confirm that, as agreed with your consultant, you have been added to the waiting list for:

Procedure: [x]

Speciality: [y]

Health Board: [z]

In line with the Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011, you qualify for the Treatment Time Guarantee.

As we are focussed on treating people who are waiting too long for treatment, work is underway across NHS Scotland to increase activity, as we work towards achieving the 12-week Treatment Time Guarantee.

The work includes the commitment to maximising theatre productivity, optimising Golden Jubilee University National Hospital and National Treatment Centre capacity, and regional working. This will help ensure patients are seen as quickly as possible.

We have seen significant challenges for our NHS, including severe pressures over winter periods, staffing capacities, and the impact of rising inflation costs. This has affected almost all aspects of NHS care, including the number of planned care appointments, and procedures the health service was able to provide. Consequently, this has led to some waiting times that are longer than we would like them to be.

You can check the waiting time for [procedure], in [NHS Board] which comes under [National specialty], at [add website URL]. This information is collated by Public Health Scotland. It will provide you with an indication of the waiting time patients experienced over the last quarter, who completed their treatment. Your waiting time will depend on how urgent your need for treatment is. If your treatment is urgent, you may be treated sooner.

We will do everything possible to try and see you as soon as possible. You will be contacted as soon as an available date of treatment is identified.

If you are unable to access this information online, please contact:

Name of contact: [Team/contact point within receiving service]

Details: [Telephone/email address]

This is your first point of contact, and they will be able to provide you with this information.

While [NHS Board] will try to offer you an appointment in your local area, to ensure you are seen as quickly as possible, you may be offered an appointment outwith [NHS Board]; for example, this could be at the Golden Jubilee University National Hospital, another Health Hoard area, or a National Treatment Centre.

You will be informed as soon as possible if this applies to you. If this is the case, we will be able to assist with travel or accommodation costs.

It is important for you to be aware that you will be offered up to two appointments. However, if you cannot take up either offer of appointment your clinical team may decide to refer you back to your referring clinician. This may mean you are no longer on the waiting list for treatment, or reset your waiting time back to zero, which means you will be put back to the back of the waiting list.

For further information on waiting times for elective treatment, you may find it useful to visit NHS inform at Waiting times - Elective care | NHS inform. However, if you feel your condition has changed significantly for the worse, or you require further consultation, please contact [name of team/contact information within receiving service for patient].

Keeping Well

Looking after your physical and mental wellbeing in advance of planned treatment will give you the best chance of having a good recovery and a good outcome. This means that the treatment is more likely to go well, that you’re likely to recover more quickly and you’re more likely to get home sooner afterwards.

It is therefore important that you try to keep yourself as fit and healthy as possible while you wait for your treatment. This includes being as physically active as you can be and trying to maintain a good diet. If you smoke, then think about trying to stop. It’s also important to look after your mental health. Information about support for stopping smoking and your mental health can be found below.

There is information available on NHS Inform to help you manage long-term pain and organisations that can provide further advice and resources to support you: NHS Inform - Chronic Pain

There is support available to help you keep as fit and healthy as possible. Visit Waiting Well - NHS Inform to find out more.

Information and support for your mental health

Samaritans – phone line 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org

Breathing Space – phone line 0800 838587

Financial support and advice

Get help with debt and money - mygov.scot

Do you have any questions?

If you have any questions about your [appointment / treatment/procedure], please contact [telephone number] or visit [website] for more information.

It is also important that your contact details are correct. If your address or telephone number has changed recently, or you know of any dates when you will not be available to come in for treatment, please contact the [specialty] Office on [telephone number].

I appreciate any delay is disappointing but want to assure you that everything possible is being done to reduce waiting times across NHS [Board].

Thank you for your understanding during these challenging times.


Email: waitingtimespolicy@gov.scot

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