Action needed on Chronic Pain waiting times

Rhoda pictured with chronic pain sufferer, Colin Sutherland.

The Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party and Health Spokesperson, Jackie Baillie, has today demanded action from the Health Secretary as statistics reveal hundreds of people are waiting over 12 weeks to be seen at a chronic pain clinic.

Statistics published today show that, during the quarter ending 31 December 2021, 4,838 patients were referred to a chronic pain clinic, down from an average of 5,200 referrals each quarter pre-pandemic.

Of the 2,020 patients seen at a chronic pain clinic during the quarter ending 31st December 2021, some 476 patients waited between 13 to 24 weeks, with 123 waiting up to 51 weeks and, shockingly, 24 patients waiting over a year.

At 31 December 2021, 2,977 patients were waiting for their first appointment at a chronic pain clinic. This compares to 2,867 patients at 30 September 2021, an increase of 3.8%.

Commenting, Scottish Labour health spokesperson, Jackie Baillie, said:

“It is simply shocking that hundreds of people are waiting months to be seen at chronic pain clinics, with some Scots waiting over a year.

“These lengthy delays are leaving hundreds of Scots living in pain and without the medical help that they need.

“We know that longer waits lead to worse outcomes for patients and take a toll on their work life, family life and mental health.

“We cannot turn our backs on those living in pain.

“Humza Yousaf must listen to patients and frontline staff and act to get chronic pain services on track.”

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, said:

 “My former colleague, David Stewart, did much to bring this issue to the attention of the Scottish Government over recent years. Since David retired last year, I have now taken up the baton.

“Chronic pain services in Scotland have been underfunded for too long. In December 2020, NHS Scotland’s update on national developments on chronic pain highlighted key challenges around workforce planning and education, but crucially the lack of consistent and sustainable funding for the service was also cited as one of the biggest challenges. Couple this with a shortage of consultants nationally and you have the perfect storm.

“Living with chronic pain can be intolerable but more than this, I know some people are forced to pay thousands of pounds for private treatment as they cannot bear the thought of waiting for weeks, and months, to be seen on the NHS.

“The Scottish Government has to start listening to constituents who need the service and come forward with more funding to improve these lengthy waiting times.”