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Supporting Documentation

National Targets & Standards

NHS National Services Scotland ISD Scotland & NHS National Services Scotland

Waiting Times National Targets & Standards

Waiting times are of public and 'management' interest for measuring among other things how well the health system is performing. It is also about prompting management action where pressures on the standard of service required by the public are apparent. Performance is monitored against a variety of Scottish Government (SG) targets and standards. Targets are the live performance benchmarks that NHS Boards are assessed on by the SG and generally last for a few years. After this point, if the target is being met, it can become a standard and part of NHS Board’s ‘business as usual’ i.e. it is now just expected that they maintain this performance.

There are two main measures for assessing performance within waiting times:

Patients waiting - waiting times of patients who are still waiting for health care at a point in time(waiting list census)

Patients seen - the waiting time actually experienced by patients who have been treated (seen) i.e. completed waits.

Currently ISD Scotland report on the following standards and targets across NHS Scotland:

Child & Adolescent Mental Health

For the NHS in Scotland to deliver a maximum 26 week waiting time from a patient’s referral to treatment for specialist CAMH services from March 2013, reducing to 18 weeks from December 2014. The target is based on patients seen; however the publication also includes statistics on both patients waiting at month end too. For more information see the CAMHS waiting times web pages.

Psychological Therapies

From December 2014, patients accessing mental health services can expect to wait no longer than 18 weeks from referral to treatment for Psychological Therapies. The target is based on patients seen during the quarter; however the publication includes statistics on patients waiting at month end too. For more information see the Psychological Therapies waiting times web pages.

Stage of Treatment (Inpatients & Day cases)

From 1 October 2012, eligible patients who are due to receive planned treatment provided on an inpatient or day case basis can expect to start to receive the treatment within 12 weeks from the date they agree to the treatment, known as the Treatment Time Guarantee. The measurement is the time from the decision to treat to the date treatment commenced. This target is based on patients seen; however the publication also includes statistics on patients waiting too. For more information see the Stage of Treatment waiting times web pages.

Stage of Treatment(New Outpatient Appointments)

From the 31 March 2010; no patient should wait longer than 12 weeks for a new outpatient appointment at a consultant-led clinic. This will include referrals from all sources. The measurement is the time from receipt of referral to date of 1st appointment. This target is based on patients waiting; however the publication includes statistics on patients seen too. For more information see the Stage of Treatment waiting times web pages.

Diagnostics (Key Diagnostic Tests)

From the 31 March 2009; patients will wait no more than six weeks for any of the 8 key diagnostic tests and investigations. The measurement is the time from receipt of the initial referral to the date the verified report is received or made available to the requester. This standard is based on patients waiting. For more information see the Diagnostics waiting times web pages.

Referral to Treatment (RTT)

From 31 December 2011, the national maximum waiting time for the whole journey from referral to treatment will be 18 weeks. The measurement is the time from receipt of initial referral to start of treatment. This standard is based on patients seen. For more information see the Referral to Treatment waiting times web pages.

Cancer

The maximum wait from urgent referral with a suspicion of cancer to treatment is 62 days. The maximum wait from decision to treat to first treatment for all patients diagnosed with cancer is 31 days. Performance against these targets was achieved by December 2011; the timescale agreed by the Scottish Government. These two targets were considered as National Standards from 1st April 2012. For more information see the Cancer waiting times web pages.

Accident & Emergency

From the 31 December 2007, the national standard for A&E waiting times is that new and unplanned return attendances at an A&E service should be seen and then admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.  This standard applies to all areas of emergency care such as EDs, assessment units, minor injury units, community hospitals, anywhere where emergency care type activity takes place.

From the 31 December 2007 the target was that 98% of new and unplanned return attendances at an A&E service should be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

In 2013, the Scottish Government introduced a new HEAT target to support the sustainable delivery of 4 hour A&E performance all year round. The first target milestone was for 95% of patients to wait no more than 4 hours from arrival to admission, discharge or transfer for accident and emergency treatment by the year ending September 2014.

From 2015, Local Delivery Plan (LDP) Standards are set and agreed between the Scottish Government and NHS Boards. The current standard is for 95 per cent of patients to wait no longer than 4 hours from arrival to admission, discharge or transfer for A&E treatment. Boards to work towards 98 per cent.

For more information, see the Emergency Care web pages.

Drugs & Alcohol Treatment

By March 2013, 90% of clients will wait no longer than 3 weeks from referral received to the start of appropriate drug or alcohol treatment that supports their recovery. For more information, see the Drugs & Alcohol waiting times web pages.

More Information

Further detail about all NHS Scotland targets and standards can be found at the Scottish Government's Scotland Performs website.


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