Staff suspended after investigation into doctored waiting times at NHS Lothian

From Democracy Live: Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon gave a statement on waiting times on the 21 March 2012

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Two members of staff at an NHS trust have been suspended as part of an investigation into waiting times.

An independent report said NHS Lothian had doctored some of its figures to avoid breaching official targets.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said some staff felt pressured to find "tactical solutions" to waiting times rather than tackle the root problem.

A spokesman for the NHS board said it was carrying out a "critical incident review" into the allegations.

NHS Lothian director Alan Boyter said: "Based on its emergent themes, steps have been taken today to suspend two members of staff pending further investigation.

"We are actively reviewing our management arrangements and have already reduced these by 80, streamlining our management to improve communications.

"We do not tolerate any form of bullying and harassment and this is monitored by annual surveys."

Ms Sturgeon revealed the findings of the report by professional services firm PWC on Wednesday.

'Unacceptable practices'

She told of her "disappointment and considerable anger" and said she would not tolerate the manipulation of waiting times guarantees.

It emerged in October last year that patients were being referred to Northumberland for treatment.

When they declined, they were not included on a list of patients waiting more than the target of 18 weeks for treatment.

A total of 1,234 people were referred for care south of the border, and the NHS said all had now been treated.

Ms Sturgeon said the "unacceptable practices" had now ended in Lothian.

She has ordered further probes into the management culture at the board, and said every NHS board ion Scotland would carry out an audit of waiting times management for 2012-13. The results of the audit will be made public.

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