The number of youngsters waiting on an NHS appointment has more than doubled since 2012, according to statistics.

Analysis of waiting times in NHS Ayrshire and Arran published by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) shows the number of children and young people waiting for an appointment at any given time rose more than double between October 2012 and September 2023 – from 498 to 1,051.

At the end of 2012, just one child or young person in the area was waiting up to 12 weeks to be seen as an outpatient.

As of September last year, it was reported that 499 children or young people were waiting that long.

Despite the issues, Scottish Government statistics show that, from April to December 2023, the paediatric New Outpatient list size reduced by 21 per cent (from 14,057 to 11,160); waits over 52 weeks reduced  by 12 per cent (from 392 to 344), waits over 78 weeks reduced by 31 per cent (from 26 to 18), and waits over 104 weeks were eradicated.

Ayrshire MSP for Scottish Labour Katy Clark has said that mismanagement of the NHS has led to spiralling paediatric waiting times for children and young people in the area.

The Scottish Labour MSP for West Scotland, said: “These shocking figures expose the extent to which children and young people are being failed.

“In paediatrics alone, over 10,000 are waiting for the medical care they need. In the Ayrshire and Arran health board, hundreds of those children and young people are now waiting up to 12 weeks or even longer to be seen as an outpatient.

“The impact of such waits can be severe, particularly as certain treatments need to be given within certain age ranges or at certain developmental stages. Serious delays can have a hugely detrimental impact on a young person’s life chances."

Ayr Advertiser: Ayrshire MSP, Katy Clark.Ayrshire MSP, Katy Clark. (Image: Katy Clark MSP)

Ms Clark added: “These stark increases are a consequence of the Scottish Government’s failed management of the NHS, with investment failing to meet demand and backlogs building up in key areas.

“Ministers must now make paediatric services a priority. That must mean reviewing child health workforce strategies, improving access and funding of community-based services, and building paediatric capacity within primary care and community health services.”

In response to the concerns, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government want all children and young people to attain the highest standard of health and wellbeing possible.

"We are committed to driving down waiting times for children and young people and have increased investment in frontline NHS Boards by more than half a billion pounds.

“The significant impact of COVID-19 on the normal operation of the NHS cannot be underestimated.

"Although challenges remain, we are pleased that waiting times for paediatric new outpatient appointments are going in the right direction."

They added: “We will continue to target resources to reduce waiting times, particularly for those waiting longest for treatment, through maximising productivity and additional resources.

"Our workforce will be integral to our continued efforts to reduce waiting times.

"The number of paediatric consultants within NHS Scotland has increased by 143.6 per cent since 2006 and we have also added 43 additional speciality training posts to paediatrics since 2014.”