Chronic pain patients left waiting

An FOI request made by the Scottish Labour Party has revealed that some patients suffering from chronic pain are waiting for more than 6 months before their first appointment.

The findings have revealed that 1,866 patients are waiting for their first appointment, whilst over 1,000 people are awaiting a follow-up appointment.

The worst waiting times exist in NHS Shetland, where patients may have to wait up to 33 weeks before they see someone. Next on the list was NHS Grampian, with a 30 week wait, and third was NHS Lothian, with waits of up to 22 weeks.
Scottish Labour have previously put in several other requests to the Scottish NHS. In August last year they revealed that NHS Dumfries and Galloway had spent £162,835 on voluntary redundancy deals. 6 people took up the offer in 2010-2011, which the local authority offered as a way of cutting long-term front line costs. The FOI request stated that voluntary redundancies had increased by 4x as much in the last four years.

The party also revealed that the Scottish Government had spent £600,000 of taxpayers money on sending Scottish patients to Bath for treatment, rather than sending them to hospitals within Scotland.

The Shadow Secretary for Health, Jackie Baillie MSP, stated that “forcing patients who are suffering from […] excruciating painful conditions to endure long, gruelling waits and arduous journeys for treatment is grossly unfair and unacceptable […] I fear efforts to help treat people living in chronic pain are being hampered by the SNP government cutting over 4,500 and the budget of our NHS by £319 million.

“We believe that there is a serious gap in care for sufferers of chronic pain in Scotland and it doesn’t make sense to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds sending Scottish patients on journeys of hundreds of miles to seek treatment in England.”

The findings revealed that only two Scottish Health Boards had set up a Managed Clinical Network (MCN). Ms Baillie states that Labour would “put in place funding to ensure that there are managed clinical networks for chronic pain in every health board across Scotland”. A press release on the party’s website describes an MCN as “an innovative and widely-supported way of treating patients that aims to breakdown existing structures” so that “the right treatment gets to the right patient at the right time”.

Sandra Mair, Deputy Chief Operating Officer for NHS Lothian, disputed the findings. In a statement released to Edinburgh Napier News, she described the waiting time “for a second appointment with a consultant in Lothian [as] less than 12 weeks with the majority of those being check – ups to determine how treatment is progressing. Patients are prioritised according to their needs.”

“NHS Lothian is committed to continuing our good work in the area of chronic pain management and we are continually looking at ways of further improving our service.”