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Liberal Democrats call on Scottish Government to come clean on knowledge of waiting times scandal

February 27, 2013 2:07 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have urged the Government to revealTavish ScottTavish Scott what it knew about the waiting times scandal before it came to light in 2011. This comes as the Auditor General said that there were early warning signs about problems with the waiting times system.

During an evidence session to the Public Audit Committee today (Wednesday 27th February), Auditor General Carol Gardner told Tavish Scott MSP:

· The report "demonstrates that there was a focus on targets in a way that was too narrow during the period that we reviewed and I think that we demonstrated there was other information available that could have highlighted those warning signs."

· "…it's really difficult to see any other alternative to members of staff at all levels of the health service and government being prepared to talk openly about the challenges people are facing in achieving targets."

· During 2011, "there was a very strong focus on whether patients were waiting 18 weeks or less."

· "There clearly was information available at health board level and national level that would have identified emerging pressures in terms of the increase of the use of the social unavailability code"

Commenting after the public audit committee, Scottish Liberal Democrat committee member Tavish Scott MSP said:

"The Auditor General made clear that the warning signs were there but the government didn't listen. We only found this out because of an NHS Lothian whistleblower. That in itself is a scandal. The government hid the fiddle. Everyone does applaud brave NHS staff who tell us what's really happening in the health service.

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Jim Hume said:

"The Health Secretary denied that social unavailability codes were used to massage waiting times figures. The Auditor General raised further questions over this assertion today saying that during the scope of her inquiry in 2011 NHS boards were strongly focussed on meeting waiting times targets.

"Information was readily available which signposted the pressures on the NHS but the SNP did little to sort out problems with the system. The Scottish Government must come clean about what it knew about the issues around waiting times targets before the scandal came to light in 2011."