A law which guarantees the right of patients to have treatment within 12 weeks has been broken over 170,000 times, it has been claimed.
Scottish Labour analysis of ISD Scotland figures indicates that a number of people have not been treated within the agreed time under the Treatment Time Guarantee.
It was introduced by the Scottish Government in 2012 for patients with planned inpatient or day case treatment.
A total of 1,835,139 patients have been seen since the legislation was brought in, although 171,480 of those patients (to September 2018) had to wait longer than 12 weeks for treatment.
Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman, Monica Lennon MSP, described the figures as “astonishing”.
He said: “Every time this law is broken it leaves a patient in pain or distress as they wait to get the treatment they need. One of my constituents in Hamilton waited 80 weeks for an operation which is totally unacceptable.
“It is clear that the promise the SNP made to the people of Scotland was not worth the paper it was written on.
“Our NHS staff are simply not getting the support and resources they need to give patients the care they deserve.
“Despite the distress this is causing people across the country, the SNP’s Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has admitted her government won’t meet its promise until 2021 at the earliest.
“People cannot wait any longer and that is why a Scottish Labour government would invest in our health and social care services to give our NHS staff the resources they desperately need.”
A Scottish Government spokesman indicated that fresh funding would help to boost the number of people being seen within the 12-week target.
“NHS investment and staffing are at historically high levels, and the record high inpatient satisfaction rates are a testament to the hard work of our frontline NHS staff,” said the spokesman.
“Since the introduction of our treatment time guarantee, over 1.6 million patients have been treated within the 12-week target.
“However, we recognise that people are waiting too long, which is why the Health Secretary Jeane Freeman published our £850 million Waiting Times Improvement Plan in October last year.
“The Waiting Times Improvement Plan will help increase capacity, clinical effectiveness and efficiency, and implement new models of care, while also substantially, sustainably and progressively improving waiting times by Spring 2021.
“We will continue to work with boards to ensure the additional funding available delivers the substantial and sustainable improvements needed.”