Health Secretary Shona Robison has blasted a patient’s 50-week wait for an appointment at NHS Grampian as “totally unacceptable”.
Ms Robison made the remarks over the case of an Aberdeenshire patient who was referred for an orthopaedic outpatient appointment in August 2017 but was told he would be waiting at least 50 weeks.
The patient, who does not want to be identified, said he is struggling to stay at work because of osteoarthritis in his neck, hands, knees and feet, adding he feels like “surrendering to the disease” due to a lack of support from the health service.
In a letter to Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin, Ms Robison said: “I can fully appreciate the frustration that this may be causing – for any patient to have been advised of a 50-week wait for an appointment is totally unacceptable in a person-centred NHS.
“Although the Scottish Government sets the strategic policy for the NHS in Scotland, operational matters such as organising appointments and scheduling admissions is, in the first instance, the responsibility of the relevant NHS board, in this case NHS Grampian.”
Ms Robison added the Scottish Government has set a standard that 95% of patients should wait no more than 12 weeks for a first outpatient consultation.
She said: “Within this target, however, the timing of any appointment will be based upon the clinical need of each individual patient to ensure that those patients with a more urgent need are seen first. However, no patient should have been waiting since August.”
An NHS Grampian spokesman said: “We are sorry to hear about this patient’s experience.
“A number of new enhance-ments across the orthopaedic service have now been introduced and are beginning to help reduce the average wait for our patients.
While we continue to build on that work, we would like to reassure people that we are committed to seeing those in need of urgent treatment as a priority.”