Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Health board censured for fiddling figures launches £37m recovery plan

A health board criticised for falsifying waiting time figures has unveiled a £37m recovery plan.

NHS Lothian accepted it was "not delivering" for patients and pledged to fulfil its statutory waiting time targets.

Chief executive Tim Davison said the plan would "deliver for the future".

The board was censured by public spending watchdog Audit Scotland for falsifying patient waiting times figures in 2011.

A review found NHS Lothian was marking patients as unavailable to artificially reduce the number in breach of the statutory waiting time guarantees.

The Patients Right (Scotland) Act offers a treatment time guarantee of 12 weeks for outpatients.

Director of scheduled care Jim Crombie said he would like NHS Lothian to meet this target by the end of the year.

"I have deliberately said that NHS Lothian is not delivering. Patients are waiting beyond the waiting time standards agreed with the government and set out by parliament," Mr Crombie said.

"This is not limited to areas of high complexity, but is occurring in some instances where capacity for these patients could be available by improving efficiency and productivity. This position must be recovered."

He added: "We are still reliant on the private sector at this time, but over the next period that will be reduced as our in-house capacity and infrastructure grows."

"Our approach is about making sure we can deliver our targets safely. It will take time to increase capacity, infrastructure and staff but now we can at least be sure that we have a clearer plan that will deliver for the future."

In December, Audit Scotland reported that no Scottish health board had met the 12 week outpatient target, and two boards had missed another target that 90% of patients should wait no longer than 18 weeks from referral to treatment.

Labour MSP Hugh Henry, convener of the Scottish Parliament's public audit committee, described the situation as a "farce".

Speaking to the committee last month, NHS Scotland executives accepted the criticism but performance director John Connaghan cautioned that the target may not be met in the near future.

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