Headlines: September 12th, 2002

The NHS in Scotland is to turn to the private sector for help in reducing waiting times.Health boards in the country have been given a share of four million pounds to bear down on the hip and knee surgery backlog.

Over the next six months around 500 patients who have been waiting for up to one year for a replacement hip or knee will have the opportunity to have their operations carried out in private hospitals around Scotland.

The NHS National Waiting Times Unit (NWTU) has already provisionally booked – at a discounted rate – all spare orthopaedic capacity for major hip and knee operations in Scotland’s private hospitals.

The money will be released to boards on the understanding that this measure will clear the backlog of patients waiting for hip and knee replacements – with most of the board areas having no-one waiting more than 9 months for such operations by March 2003.

The private hospitals involved include Ross Hall and Nuffield in Glasgow, Murrayfield in Edinburgh, Abbey Ayr, Abbey Stirling, and Albyn in Aberdeen. The NHS has effectively booked all spare orthopaedic capacity for major hip and knee operations at discounted rates in these hospitals for the next six months.

NHS Highland is using its money to increase surgery within its own hospitals.

The NHS in England is also operating a similar system for bearing down on heart surgery waiting times. (See Publicnet Briefing of Tuesday, 2 July 2002).