Scottish Labour has branded waiting times for key diagnostic tests as a “catastrophe waiting to happen”, saying they show that health services are in danger of being overwhelmed, as new figures reveal thousands of people are waiting far longer than they should.


New data published today from Public Health Scotland shows that at 31 December 2020, 100,913 patients were waiting to be seen for one of eight key diagnostic tests, which include endoscopies and radiology scans – an increase of 15.3% compared to the same time the previous year.


Of those waiting at 31 December 2020, 44.1 per cent had waited longer than the target six weeks. The longest waits were experienced by patients requiring an endoscopy, with 18.5 per cent of patients on the list waiting between 39 and 52 weeks and 1,236 patients who had waited over 52 weeks.


A standard waiting time of six weeks was set by the Scottish Government in 2009 for diagnostic tests to aid early detection of conditions like cancer or brain tumours. Scottish Labour has said that the failure to meet those targets shows that the NHS is at risk of collapsing under a tidal wave of serious health conditions due to delays in diagnosis.


Commenting, Scottish Labour interim leader Jackie Baillie said: “These figures are a catastrophe waiting to happen and demonstrate the consistent failure of the SNP to deliver healthcare on time and when needed.


“A route plan out of lockdown will depend heavily on a functioning NHS that can handle the health problems that were stored up throughout the pandemic, but with so many missed targets it is hard to see how health services will cope.


“It is a blow for the thousands of people who will suffer because of a delayed diagnosis and will miss vital treatment for serious illness.


“Thanks to SNP mismanagement, our health services are at risk of collapse. We must have a clear route to fully re-open health services now, and a competent government that can deliver it.”


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