Longer wait for Falkirk patients

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Patients in Falkirk district waited longer for hospital treatment than NHS figures suggested.

Now a politician is demanding to know how the situation arose.

Just weeks after the Scottish Government stopped health boards from labelling people as “unavailable” to be treated, shock statistics reveal NHS Forth Valley was often the country’s worst offender.

In some cases, almost nine out of 10 patients were waiting longer for treatment than the health board figures claimed.

The use of ‘social unavailability’ was originally introduced to allow health authorities to take account of people who couldn’t keep appointments, perhaps because of holidays.

But last year, following revelations that NHS Lothian had been misusing the system, a full audit of all Scotland’s health boards was ordered.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said no other authority had been found to be deliberately manipulating figures, but improvements were needed.

Councillor Linda Gow, a member of the health board, said the Forth Valley statistics were “unbelievable” and wants to know how the situation arose.