NHS Grampian has claimed it works to “actively manage” waiting lists after new figures revealed it was the worst in Scotland for treating patients within 18 weeks of referral.
The latest figures released from ISD Scotland show just 70.1% of patients, or 2,065 patients, at NHS Grampian were seen within the 18-week target in June, against a guarantee which sets out that 90% should start receiving care within that time.
However, NHS Grampian said the latest figures highlight a “significant improvement” from the previous quarter, when just over 61% of patients were seen within 18 weeks.
Tom Mason, Scottish Conservative MSP for the north-east region, said: “It is welcome to see some degree of improvement on these figures, but NHS Grampian is still well short of its target.
“Patients in the north-east, many of whom are in acute pain, should not have to wait that long to be treated.
“It is not good enough, and SNP ministers should start by properly resourcing NHS Grampian, which this year is the lowest funded health board per head in the country.”
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An NHS Grampian spokeswoman said: “These latest figures highlight a significant improvement in our performance against the 18-week target.
“This has been the result of hard work throughout the organisation and we want to thank all the staff involved for their efforts.
“However, we are very aware that we remain the lowest achieving board in this area.
“We are committed to meeting the waiting times targets laid down by the Scottish Government and acknowledge our current performance falls short of that.
“This is due to longstanding issues in recruiting to some specialist medical and nursing vacancies.
“Where we do not achieve the waiting standards set, we actively manage the lists and ensure that patients are treated as soon as possible and in line with their clinical priority.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We recognise patients are waiting too long for outpatient appointments, as well as inpatient and day case procedures.
“That is why we have invested more than £100 million this year from our £850m waiting times improvement plan.
“This investment will support increased staffing, evening and weekend clinics and additional theatre sessions to ensure progress.
“We have been clear with health boards that it is unacceptable for anyone to wait too long for treatment.”