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According to the latest statistics, 44 per cent of chronic pain sufferers in NHS Grampian waited longer than the 18-week target for their first pain clinic appointment. The Affa Sair patient group has been trying to organise a meeting to discuss the issue with the Scottish Government since October, without success. The group said:
“the lack of care, respect and compassion by the Scottish Government is a national disgrace”.
In addition, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport cancelled her appearances at the past two meetings of the cross-party group on chronic pain, leaving patients from across the country without answers. With that in mind, will the First Minister take personal charge of the situation to make sure that patients get their meeting with the Scottish Government and, more importantly, the improvement in treatment that they desperately deserve and need?
I was not aware of the meeting request until Tom Mason raised it in his question. I will certainly be happy to have that looked into, and I am sure that the health secretary will be happy to meet any organisation that wants to discuss those issues. The health secretary tells me that she is due to meet the co-conveners of the cross-party group—I think—shortly in order to discuss those issues.
More generally, our waiting times improvement plan is not just targeted at chronic pain but applies across the health service and is about ensuring that we reduce waiting times and that people are treated within those targets.