HOLYROOD ROW OVER FIDDLED WAIT LIST FIGURES; NHS whitewash claim.
ALEX Neil was yesterday accused of presiding over an NHS whitewash during a Holyrood row over waiting list figures.
The Health Secretary rejected accusations of major problems as the results of internal investigations into Scotland's 14 health boards were published.
That's despite the fact that some staff at NHS Tayside said they felt under pressure to say patients were "unavailable" for appointments in order to meet targets.
The probes were sparked after it emerged NHS Lothian had removed patients from their 18-week waiting list when they refused to travel to England for treatment, marking them "unavailable for social reasons".
The audits examined levels of "social unavailability" between January and June this year - after the Lothian scandal broke.
Results showed the overall number across Scotland had fallen sharply in the aftermath of the Lothian case. Labour said this was evidence that waiting list fiddling was widespread. But Neil told the Parliament: "The reports provide no evidence of dishonest or widespread manipulation of waiting times across the NHS in Scotland."
He did admit though that there were "specific localised issues in board areas which need to be addressed".
Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: "We were told by Nicola Sturgeon it was only NHS Lothian who fiddled waiting times.
"The audits now show that the problems were far more widespread.
"Alex Neil has today tried to cover for Nicola Sturgeon. His statement was nothing more than a whitewash."
NOT A PROBLEM J ALEX Neil