More than four in 10 chronic patients are waiting longer than 18 weeks to be treated, new figures have revealed.
Statistics from NHS Scotland’s Information Services Division show NHS Grampian is the worst-performing health board in Scotland for seeing chronic pain patients within the 18-week target time.
Figures from the third quarter to September 2019 show 368 patients, or 44.4%, were left waiting longer for their first appointment at a pain clinic.
The health board has procured additional funding to take on additional staff but bosses have admitted the waiting times are “far longer” than they would like.
Scottish Conservative north-east MSP Peter Chapman said: “These long waits are excruciating and have a serious impact on the lives of patients.
“I also sympathise with the staff who are trying their best to deliver a service but simply cannot cope with the workload because resources are clearly not in place.
“Once again, the Health Secretary is not giving enough support to the hardworking staff at NHS Grampian and this must change immediately.”
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A spokesman for NHS Grampian said a bid for additional funding to relaunch the Pain Management Programme was successful.
He added: “This will allow us to take on additional psychology and physiotherapy staff.
“A clinical fellow will join us this month, we are in the process of recruiting a psychologist and new physiotherapists have already been appointed.
“The waiting times for the chronic pain service are far longer than we would like.
“We continue to provide the best service we can in the current circumstances.
“Patients in most urgent need of treatment are seen as a matter of priority.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are working with chronic pain services to ensure people receive timely treatment and we have made over £108 million available to health boards in 2019-20 through the waiting times improvement plan.
“This will help reduce waiting times, including chronic pain services, in line with the activity agreed in health boards’ annual operational plans.”