Ayrshire MSP Sharon Dowey says that chronic pain waiting times in NHS Ayrshire and Arran are sitting at “completely unacceptable levels”.

The SNP target states that 95 per cent of patients should receive a hospital appointment within 12 weeks.

In a statistical report published in June 2021, figures reveal that 93.2 per cent of patients are waiting longer than twelve weeks for a chronic pain appointment in NHS Ayrshire and Arran.

Commenting, Scottish Conservative MSP Sharon Dowey said: “An overwhelming majority of people are waiting far too long for a chronic pain appointment. The most worrying statistic in the report reveals that over a third of people are waiting over a year for an appointment.

“If the SNP Health Secretary does not get a grip on this soon, waiting times will only get worse.

“Throughout the pandemic, our NHS staff have worked so hard to provide the best possible care for patients. However, without the support of the Humza Yousaf, NHS staff members will not be able to provide adequate care for those suffering from chronic pain. As a result of Humza’s failures, many people are waiting over a year for a chronic pain appointment, and this is completely unacceptable.

“With such a small number of patients receiving an appointment within twelve weeks, it is clear that the SNP Government are letting down our NHS at every turn.”

Responding to the concerns, Ayr MSP Siobhian Brown said:“The Scottish Government recognises the additional pressures our NHS staff continuously face as they work tirelessly to respond to the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented. Waiting times have been impacted because of high attendance levels, staffing pressures due to isolation and annual leave, which was cancelled during the height of the pandemic.In my role as convenor of the COVID-19 Recovery Committee, I and the rest of the group are continually taking evidence on how the pandemic affects areas of daily life such as NHS services. On Thursday we heard from Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, he told us that our health boards are facing an extremely difficult winter because of COVID-19.

“We already know NHS Ayrshire and Arran is currently dealing with a sharp rise in admissions due to the virus. This has caused some outpatient services to be suspended temporarily with a priority placed on cancer surgeries and diagnostic services. Bosses at the health board also took the decision to redeploy staff to cover emergency care.

“That is why the £300m funding announcement made by the Health Secretary last week, which is the biggest winter pressure package announced in the history of devolution, is also about the NHS Recovery Plan and how we rebuilt and recover from the unprecedented pressures on our health service. That means more staff, better support for existing workers, additional hospital capacity and improved aftercare.”

Joanne Edwards, Director for Acute Services at NHS A&A added: “NHS Ayrshire & Arran is committed to providing safe and effective health care and treatment for our population in as timely a way as possible. “Throughout the last year, NHS Ayrshire and Arran’s chronic pain service have developing new ways of assessing patient referrals.

“This work has resulted in significant improvement to chronic pain waiting times over recent months. In September 2021, 83 per cent of patients were seen within 12 weeks and no patient on the current waiting list has waited beyond four weeks since referral.”