More than 7,000 people had been waiting more than two years to start hospital treatment as of the end of last month, new data from Public Health Scotland (PHS) shows.
The latest figures noted that almost 142,000 people were waiting to be admitted as inpatients or day cases and of these 7,650 had been waiting more than two years to start their treatment.
The latest data comes after figures released earlier this month which showed that August had the worst A&E waiting times on record, with almost 5,000 people across Scotland waiting longer than 12 hours to be seen and subsequently discharged or admitted.
The health secretary Humza Yousaf announced two weeks ago that £600m will be used to shore up the NHS over the winter months, but hinted that it will not “mitigate every single challenge”.
He said the Scottish Government would provide £8m from the current year’s budget to recruit 1,000 new staff, including 750 nurses, midwives and allied health professionals from overseas.
Commenting on the latest figures from PHS, Yousaf said: “It is through the dedication and resilience of NHS staff that we have been able to clear a significant amount of two year inpatient waits.
“This is a positive step forward in our recovery from the pandemic and will help ease pressure on the NHS over winter.
“But challenges remain and there are still unacceptable waits in Orthopaedics, General Surgery and Urology – I am determined to provide the support necessary to drive improvements in these specialities.”
Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said the latest figures were “nothing short of shocking incompetence from the SNP”.
She said: “The pandemic can be blamed no longer – that thousands are waiting for over two years on waiting lists is symbolic of this SNP government’s deadly neglect of our NHS.
“Staff are working tirelessly, but this government’s failure to support the NHS is putting lives at risk.”
The specialty with the highest number of long waits was orthopaedics, with 2,152 patients who had waited over two years for admission as an inpatient or day case.
The health boards that reported the highest number of waits over two years were NHS Grampian, followed by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and NHS Lothian.
However, the figure for waits of two years or more had seen a reduction since the last Public Health Scotland release on June 30, when it stood at 10,066.
Liberal Democrat Scottish affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine said: “More and more patients are facing long waits in pain and discomfort for treatment. Once they get in they are waiting longer and longer to leave too as delayed discharge has soared.
“The health secretary’s NHS plans have seen waits for hosts of treatments worsen. He should apologise for allowing the Scottish NHS to grind to a halt on his watch.”