BERWICKSHIRE MSP John Lamont has said it’s totally unacceptable for people in the Borders to be “given a second class service” after figures released this week showed that patients in the region face some of the longest waiting times in Scotland.
But NHS Borders claim that for the majority of patients, the service is far from second rate, with the national waiting time census showing waits for occupational therapy and podiatry were much shorter than the Scottish average.
John Lamont expressed concern after results from the census showed that patients in the Borders face the longest average wait for an appointment for dietetics and physiotherapy and adults needing speech and language therapists.
The result was particularly damning in relation to speech and language therapy, with NHS Borders reporting the highest median waiting time for adult patients of nine weeks.
The physiotherapy results from the census also made pretty poor reading for the local health board.
Of the 6,941 adult physiotherapy patients seen, 3,872 patients were seen within three weeks (56%) but 236 patients (3%) were seen more than 18 weeks from the date the referral was received, including some who were treated by NHS Borders and had to wait 23 weeks.
The MSP commented: “These figures show that if you are a patient in the Borders then you face some of the highest average waiting times in Scotland.
“Those needing help with their diet or who are having trouble with mobility often need help as soon as possible but are waiting for weeks longer than they would have to in other areas.
“It is clear that many patients in the Borders are being let down. This is totally unacceptable and the patients being forced to wait this long will not stand for it.”
While accepting that physiotherapy results were disappointing NHS Borders general manager for primaryand community service, Alasdair Patterson said the health board was on target.
He commented: “In our Allied Health Professional services, including occupational therapy, podiatry, speech and language, 95% of patients are seen within a much shorter time than the overall Scotland picture with one exception - physiotherapy.
“At the time of the census in physiotherapy we were slightly above the average for Scotland, however, our longest waits were well below the longest waits across Scotland. There is also a lot of work currently underway in physiotherapy which means that as of today 95% of patients are seen within nine weeks. And we continue to work on improving that position.