Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has today called on the Scottish Government to deliver on its promise as orthopaedic patients in Orkney continue to face lengthy delays.
Mr McArthur raised the issue at General Questions in Holyrood today where he said one constituent was “referred to a surgeon in May but was told that they would have to wait six to eight months, only to receive the same letter in September announcing a further six to eight month delay.”
Orkney’s MSP then challenged the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Shona Robison MSP, to set out what steps the Scottish Government would take, in conjunction with the local health board, to “ensure orthopaedic patients are seen within the 12 week timeframe set out by the Scottish Government”.
In response to Mr McArthur, the Cabinet Secretary for Health confirmed NHS Grampian, who provide care for patients from Orkney, received a “significant share of the £50 million deal to address the longest waits, and we expect progress to be made by the end of March”.
The Cabinet Secretary also added that NHS boards in the North of Scotland are currently looking at greater collaboration to “plan elective care far more efficiently and ensure they use all the capacity”. This confirmed reports earlier in the week from NHS Orkney that it plans to work closely with NHS Western Isles in addressing the ‘large backlog’ in terms of orthopaedic patients.
Following the exchange, Mr McArthur said:
“The Scottish Government has a clear target of 12 weeks for orthopaedic appointments. This will ring hollow for patients in Orkney, however, many of whom have waited six months and often more to get the treatment they need and deserve.
“It is now acknowledged that this problem arises from a serious lack of capacity that has been allowed to develop in this as in a number of other areas of our health service.
“NHS Orkney set out plans earlier this week to work collaboratively with other health boards to try and tackle what it admits is a ‘large backlog’. I look forward to discussing these plans in more detail when I meet NHS Orkney’s Chief Executive, Cathie Cowan, tomorrow (Friday).
“Meantime, the Health Secretary must now ensure that the additional funding she has promised addresses the current capacity issues so that waiting times for patients in Orkney are brought in line with the 12 week target set by the government.”