Hundreds on waiting list for diagnostic tests

Concerns have been raised over the long term health of Borders residents after it emerged that waiting lists for key tests and scans have increased by 50% in the last year, with services impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 12:19 pm
The Border General Hospital in Melrose.

Latest figures from Public Health Scotland show that over 100,000 patients across Scotland are waiting for eight key diagnostics tests including endoscopy, lower endoscopy, colonoscopy, cystoscopy, CT scan, MRI scan, barium studies and non-obstetric ultrasound.

At December 31 2020, 100,913 patients were waiting for the eight key tests - an increase of 15.3% (+13,370) from December 31 2019.

In the Borders, the figures show a 50% increase in those waiting for these tests from 1,205 in December 2019 to 1,807 in December 2020.

Paying tribute to the “heroic” effort of NHS staff in the Borders throughout the pandemic, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP John Lamont said: “Of course, tackling the coronavirus pandemic should be the priority for our NHS, but these patients cannot be forgotten about by the Scottish Government.

“There is a growing number of people waiting on key tests and an inevitable backlog of operations. This will undoubtedly be causing them more stress for patients, on top of their health conditions.

“We need to see the Scottish Government providing financial support for health boards and get a plan in place to outline when these patients will be seen.”

​​NHS Borders spending lengthy periods of times on waiting lists was “not the service we would wish for our patients”.

However, the health board is performing better than others in some areas. Only 1.7% of Borders patients wait over 39 weeks for an endoscopy. for example, compared to the national average of 22.4%.

Dr Lynn McCallum, medical director at NHS Borders, said: “We understand that waiting for diagnostic tests can be a frustrating and anxious time. Over the past year the global pandemic has impacted on our waiting times, and we are working hard to remedy this.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank our patients for their continued patience and our staff for their dedication in tirelessly working to keep our services going and see patients as quickly and safely as we possibly can.”​​​​