As Mr Lockhart will recall, in its initial work, the waiting times improvement plan specifically targets those people who have been waiting the longest and those with a clinical priority. In 2018-19, NHS Forth Valley received an additional £4 million, which it focused on support for general surgery, ear, nose and throat, trauma and orthopaedics.
In this financial year, NHS Forth Valley plans to utilise the additional funding for waiting times improvement to recruit new staff to the chronic pain service so that it can increase capacity by running a pain management programme with extended scope physiotherapists. That programme, which will run in parallel with consultant-led services, will contribute to and complement the national work that we are doing to improve the development of the chronic pain service across the national health service.
I thank the cabinet secretary for that response, but recent figures show that more than a quarter of patients in NHS Forth Valley have waited more than 18 weeks for treatment for chronic pain. Only 73 per cent were seen within 18 weeks of referral, which is below the target of 90 per cent. That made NHS Forth Valley the second-worst-performing health board in Scotland on that measure.
The cabinet secretary mentioned the provision of additional funding, but what real measures will she take to provide additional support to NHS Forth Valley to improve the situation?
I think that the provision of additional funding is one of the real measures that we are taking. It is precisely because of the situation that Mr Lockhart has outlined that, as all boards are required to do,
NHS Forth Valley targets those areas with the longest waits and where there is a clinical priority. That is why it is targeting its chronic pain service in this financial year. We will see the effectiveness of that when the figures come out in due course.