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North politician criticises lack of action over urology waiting times

Edward Mountain.
Edward Mountain.

Patients in the Highlands who require urology services could wait up to 60 weeks to see a specialist, according to a north politician.

Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Edward Mountain said the 60 week waiting times in the department at Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, were “unacceptable”.

The Scottish Government’s target is for 95% of patients in urology to be seen by a consultant within 12 weeeks of being referred by a doctor.

And Mr Mountain highlighted that patients will then need to wait another 18 weeks before any operation, if required.

Mr Mountain highlighted his concerns after the Press and Journal reported this week that half of all men given urgent referrals to a prostate cancer specialist in the Highlands have not been seen within the national 62 day target.

The politician previously raised his concerns with cabinet secretary for health, Shona Robison, on October 5 last year.

But yesterday Mr Mountain said he had “major concerns” as “nothing has been done” in the past four months.

He added: “My point is that if, in the case of urology it takes 60 weeks to get to see the consultant, it means from seeing the GP to getting an operation may be 78 weeks. This is unacceptable.

“The Cabinet Secretary, Shona Robison, acknowledged the particular problem with urology services in NHS Highland and classed it as ‘an area of major concern’. Here we are four months later and no resolution and I think those that need this service have a right to ask why.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “This Government is committed to ensuring that all patients have swift access to the full range of services they need. Long waits of this sort are unacceptable and we will be seeking further detail from NHS Highland to get clarity on the handling of this case.

“In December 2016, we published a new strategy for responding to the rising demand in outpatient appointments, aiming to free up 400,000 of them by 2020. We’ve also invested an extra £10 million this month to deliver an extra 40,000 outpatient appointments immediately. NHS Highland have received £500,000 to support the reduce long waiters.”

A NHS Highland spokeswoman said: “We recognise that patients are waiting an unacceptably long time for a first appointment. This is partly because patients with a higher level of urgency are prioritised which unfortunately has resulted in a number of patients waiting longer than we would wish.

“We have considered additional support from other health boards but without success. The Golden Jubilee National Hospital does not provide urology as a speciality which can be accessed for long waiting patients.”

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