Scottish Labour has called on the First Minister to order an urgent investigation into the SNP’s hidden waiting times “scandal” that has already engulfed one Scottish Health Board after it emerged patients were being offered appointments in Harrogate and Northumbria which, if refused, meant they were exempt from national waiting times targets.
Despite Alex Salmond admitting at First Minister’s Questions today that one Health Board had been deliberately offering unrealistic surgery appointments in England, he refused to back Labour’s call for a Scotland-wide inquiry.
It comes as Scottish Labour published new figures today showing that the number of inpatients being exempted from waiting time targets for “social” reasons has, inexplicably, increased by almost 300% in the last few years.
Speaking following First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Labour’s Shadow Public Health Minister Dr Richard Simpson MSP said:
“Alex Salmond admitted today that at least one Health Board has been fiddling waiting time figures – yet astonishingly ruled out a full Scotland-wide inquiry. How do we know this is not just the tip of the iceberg?”
Talking about the mysterious increase in patients being exempted from waiting list targets, Dr Simpson said:
“Whenever figures increase so substantially, you’ve got to ask why. The SNP government’s failure to do so will have people wondering what Alex Salmond has to hide.”
Dr Simpson continued:
“This latest revelation casts serious doubt over the integrity of the SNP’s claims on waiting times and makes a mockery of their promise to keep Scotland’s NHS local when patients are being asked to endure a 400 mile round trip for routine operations.
“We need a full Scotland-wide investigation into the SNP’s hidden waiting list scandal – anything else is simply not good enough.”