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Executive hid 3500 patients.

Byline: LINDSAY McGARVIE

THE Scottish Executive has been accused of hiding statistics which show nearly 3500 patients waiting more than a year for treatment.

Last week, Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm announced that no one had waited over 12 months for day- case treatment in Scottish hospitals.

But the NHS Information and Statistics Division calculated last December that 3382 people had waited more than 12 months for treatment. That is a rise of 330 per cent on the 786 people recorded in June 1999.

Last June, the Sunday Mail revealed these hidden patients are referred to as Code X cases.

Although they are on a waiting list, the NHS considers them to be a low priority. Some have been shunted off priority waiting lists.

The Executive failed to include 393 patients who had waited more than a year for ear nose and throat treatment, 991 waiting for plastic surgery, 604 who need orthopaedic surgery, 200 urology patients and 363 waiting for general surgery.

Last night, SNP leader John Swinney demanded to know why the Code X patients were not included in Chisholm's figures.

The Health Minister had referred only to patients with a national waiting times guarantee.

But Swinney said: "The reality is that more than 3000 people have waited more than a year - something Ministers know to be true, because these are their own figures.

"They are using weasel words deliberately designed to mislead the public and the media and cover up the fact that they have made things far worse.

"Since the Executive came to power, the number of people languishing on a waiting list for more than a year has gone up by more than 300 per cent."
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 31, 2003
Words:280
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