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.

7. Waiting List Validation and Removal

7.1 Waiting List Validation


To support the management of patient waiting lists, Health Boards must complete the three stage waiting list validation on a regular and continual basis, which should not exceed six-month gaps.

The process that should be followed is below:

Stage 1 – Administration and Clerical Validation

  • There should be a routine clean of the list to quality-check data. This includes removing patients that no longer require treatment.

Stage 2 – Patient Validation

  • Communicate with the patient to confirm they wish to remain on the waiting list. This will also identify patients who require to be escalated for review by a clinical team.
  • If a Patient-Focussed Booking process is available for the Health Board or service, implementation of this should be considered.
  • Health Boards should check the patient has not been seen via another route, for example at Accident & Emergency or at a private appointment.

Stage 3 – Clinical Validation

  • This will require review of the patient record and identification of appropriate actions including attendance at virtual clinics, patient management plans or treatment options for the patient.

In addition to local three-stage validation, the National Elective Coordination Unit (NECU) supports NHS Scotland Health Boards through a number of work streams, including national waiting list validation. This process is centrally coordinated by NECU and employs a digital validation platform, with capability to support high-volume administrative and patient validation. This process ensures that information held on waiting lists is accurate and supports Health Boards to identify those patients who have indicated that they still require to be seen are scheduled for their appointment or operation, and where appropriate remove patients who no longer require their appointment or operation. Further details of the work NECU do can be found here: National Waiting List Validation - How it works | The nation (nhscfsd.co.uk).

7.2 Waiting List Removal


Following waiting list validation, if the outcome is to remove a patient from a waiting list, this should be confirmed to both the patient and referrer. It should include the reason for removal, the impact on their waiting time and who the patient should contact if they still wish an appointment / treatment.

Examples of reasons for removal from the waiting list include, but are not limited to:

  • if the patient requests removal.
  • the appointment is no longer needed for clinical reasons.
  • the patient is unavailable for an extended period of time i.e. over the 24-week maximum unavailability permitted, as seen in paragraph 4 of the Directions.
  • if the patient has been seen elsewhere (for example, privately).


Email: waitingtimespolicy@gov.scot

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