Hundreds of north-east patients in chronic pain are not being seen within the government’s 18-week target.
Shock statistics show that more than half of those who rely upon NHS Grampian for care wait longer – with one even waiting more than a year.
The Scottish Government has been told that the suffering of north-east residents cannot be lessened without greater investment in health services.
Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald said “urgent intervention” was needed, with some people living in “agony”.
The figures – collated by the Scottish Conservatives – show that 418 patents were treated in the target time period but 370 had to wait between 18 and 36 weeks, 111 between 36 and 54 and one more than 54 weeks.
>> Keep up to date with the latest news with The P&J newsletter
It is a stark contrast to other health boards, with all patients being treated within 18 weeks in the Borders, Western Isles, Lanarkshire, Lothian, Orkney and Shetland.
Even in the busy NHS Greater Glasgow area, a mere 48 patients were not seen within the target time and the longest they had to wait was 36 weeks.
In Highland, eight patients have waited longer than 55 weeks for treatment. Only two across the country have waited longer than 72 weeks – both in Highland.
Health bosses in Grampian have blamed the ongoing staff recruitment crisis for the delays.
In the north-east, the average waiting time is 42 weeks – more than double the second-highest wait time of 21 weeks experienced by patients in Ayrshire and Arran.
And campaigners say the figures do not yet take into account the wait times of patients who have already entered the system and have had several appointments.
Last night north-east Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald gave a stark warning, saying: “We simply can’t sort this out without more money.
“I have had a meeting with NHS Grampian and was happy to hear there are medium to long term plans to improve waiting times.
“But that will be of little comfort to the people suffering these agonising conditions now.
“The message for the Scottish Government and the NHS is that urgent intervention is needed now.”
An NHS Grampian spokeswoman “We have been experiencing longer waiting times than we would like with the Chronic Pain Service across Grampian.
“This is partly as a result of significant challenges in recruiting enough qualified staff.
“It is an extremely specialised field and we face competition from health boards across the country for a very limited pool of staff.
“We are continuing to provide the best service we can in the current circumstances and, in order to do that, we ensure patients are prioritised so that those in urgent need of treatment are seen first.
“Unfortunately this does mean that sometimes people with more routine condition may have to wait longer.”