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Patients can wait up to a year or more for knee replacements at NHS Highland

2nd August 2019

NHS Highland patients can wait for a year or more for a knee replacement, according to figures released to Labour MSP David Stewart under Freedom of Information.

Mr Stewart, who represents the Highlands and Islands and is Scottish Labour's Shadow Health Minister, asked the health authority for the figures after two separate constituents complained that they were facing a wait of up to a year or more to get an operation.

In 2012, the SNP Government introduced the Treatment Time Guarantee, which gave patients a legal right to treatment within 12 weeks.

"In both cases I was told that the people were in pain and each said they couldn't be prescribed stronger pain killers because the GP was concerned of creating an opiate addiction," explained Mr Stewart.

"Patients with these problems are often debilitated, find it difficult to get around, unable to get on with day to day tasks and leading a restricted life.

“No-one should have to wait so long for such surgery and obviously the health authority is in no way meeting the waiting time guarantee.

“It is a sad reflection on the state of our health service today and our NHS staff are simply not getting the support and resources they need to give patients the care they deserve."

Mr Stewart is now writing to Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, to ask what the Scottish Government is doing to cut waiting times for such operations.

NHS Highland revealed that there were 214 patients on the current waiting list as of 13 June this year.

The FOI also discovered that the longest waiting time for routine patients in 2018/2019 was 55 weeks, up from 40 weeks for both 2016/17 and 2017/18.

Also, a total of 90% of the people in 2018/19 were seen in 49 weeks or less.

The average waiting time for this current year was 31.5 weeks showing a steady increase from 18.5 weeks in 2016/17 and 21.4 weeks in 2017/18.

NHS Highland says steps are being taken to address the long waiting times.

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