600 patients a day sent to other health boards
225,000 people had to travel for treatment last year
MORE than 600 patients a day are travelling miles from their own area to receive treatment from other health boards or non-NHS providers, figures reveal.
Some 225,000 people undergoing a variety of treatments in 2015/16 were referred to different parts of the country for care.
The figure is equivalent to 10 per cent of all patients last year and does not include those who paid for their own private treatment or who were referred to the National Waiting Times Centre at the Golden Jubilee.
It is the first time the official statistics body, ISD Scotland, has detailed patient “cross boundary flows”, which cover outpatient attendances, day cases, elective and non-elective patients.
The Herald has reported that psychiatrists in Glasgow had referred some psychiatric patients as far afield as Inverness due to local bed shortages, with cancer patients in Dumfries and Galloway also enduring 144-mile round trips to Edinburgh for radiotherapy.
Overall, the statistics show 91.2 per cent of outpatients appointments in Scotland took place in the patient’s local board area, compared to 76.8 per cent of elective procedures.
Of non-elective impatient cases, 93.3 per cent of patients were admitted to a hospital in their own health board while 80.6 per cent of day case treatments took place in the person’s local health board area.
Most island residents are referred to the mainland for elective procedures, such as hip or knee replacement surgery, but some larger boards were also found to be sending significant numbers of patients elsewhere.
In the Borders, nearly half of elective patients are sent away, as are more than a third in NHS Lanarkshire.
However, the data also reveals that 14.5 per cent of new outpatient attendances in major boards like Fife were sent elsewhere, along with 20.8 per cent in Highland.
Nearly 15,400 patients were also referred for treatment outwith the NHS, to a private sector provider, around six in every thousand cases. This included around 7,450 outpatient appointments, 5,153 day cases, 2,213 elective inpatient cases and 573 non-elective admissions.
Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Donald Cameron said: “We know the NHS is hardpressed under this Scottish Government, with staff overstretched, wards full to the brim, and GP practices unable to fill posts.
“If that now means more patients are being forced to go to other parts of the country for treatment, it’s an extremely bad reflection on the SNP’s handling of Scotland’s health service.”
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “There are very good reasons why people are treated outside their board areas. Specialist care is provided in the most appropriate environment, regardless of board boundaries – this often provides better outcomes, as the clinicians involved have a sufficient volume of cases to maintain and improve their skills. Also, in many cases it is easier for a patient to go to a hospital in a neighbouring board area, because it is nearer to their home.
“There are many other patients who start their care in their own area and are then referred to a regional centre for specialist treatment. For example, the Golden Jubilee Hospital in Clydebank, which is a world-class national centre providing treatments such as heart transplants and cardiac bypass surgery.
“Where clinically appropriate we will continue to plan and deliver services at a local level. Where there is evidence better outcomes could only be reliably and sustainably produced by planning services on a regional or national level, we will respond to this evidence to secure the best possible outcomes.” ANIMAL rights groups are calling on the Scottish Government to make this year’s Boxing Day hunts the last to take place.
It came as riders and dogs took part in the annual Boxing Day gathering near Houston, Renfrewshire.
The plea by the League Against Cruel Sports and OneKind comes after a review by Lord Bonomy, who said fox hunting laws should be changed. He said the current rules were “unduly complicated”.
Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said Lord Bonomy’s findings were being weighed up.