Patients across Falkirk feel the pain with lengthy waits

NHS Forth Valley was forced to admit to an error printed in waiting time figures
NHS Forth Valley was forced to admit to an error printed in waiting time figures

Patients were having to wait twice as long for chronic pain treatment than an NHS report claimed after a mix-up in figures.

Last week, a document published by Healthcare Improvement Scotland said NHS Forth Valley’s mean waiting time for access to a psychologist to help people cope with pain was 36 weeks.

But a disgruntled patient provided evidence he had been waiting more than two and a half years to see a specialist – forcing the figure to be correctly updated to 78 weeks.

However, those waiting to see a doctor or physiotherapist for help with chronic pain are only waiting four and eight weeks respectively.

The health board has said it has employed temporary psychology staff to run additional pain clinics, as well as investigating how the “administrative error” in the statistics occured.

The report also showed in some parts of Scotland people are waiting nearly two years.

But waiting times to see a psychologist to get help to cope with chronic pain have now been reduced to 31 weeks, according to NHS Forth Valley.

The announcement came as the health board confirmed it had submitted the correct waiting time information to Health Improvement Scotland.

However, instead of reporting the wait as 78 weeks, a document looking at the level of service across all Scotland’s health authorities showed it as 36 weeks.

A spokeswoman for NHS Forth Valley said: “We are currently working with HIS to look into how this error happened and are also reviewing our own systems for checking and approving future reports.

“We recognise that some patients have experienced very long waits to see a psychologist and action is already being taken to improve performance.”

As well as using temporary staff, the health board is advertising for additional permanent psychology support to help manage future demand.

Despite the lengthy waits, 88 per cent of Forth Valley patients said their treatment for chronic pain had been good or excellent.