The Scottish Government plans to reduce NHS waiting times to no longer than 18 weeks, according to Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon.

The administration pledges that all patients will receive treatment within 18 weeks of being referred by their GP, with the target due to be met by December.

New figures measuring progress towards 18 weeks referral to treatment show that in the past three months 85% of patients received care within the timeframe.

Statistics measuring current targets also show that 99.9% of patients are waiting 12 weeks or fewer for their first outpatient appointment and 99.7% are waiting fewer than nine weeks for in-patient and day-care surgery.

Ms Sturgeon made the pledge during her first visit to Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary since being re-appointed Health Secretary.

She said: "As the recently re-appointed Health Secretary I want to give my assurance today that there will be no let up in this government's bid to drive down waiting times.

"Patients continue to tell me that prompt access to treatment, delivered as locally as possible, is one of their top priorities, and that is why we are continuing to put such an emphasis on cutting waiting times.

"The delivery of the 18 weeks target is the next big challenge for our NHS but it is the right challenge, and I want to be 100% clear that this remains one of my key commitments. Not only is this in patients' best interest, having even lower waiting times is a more efficient way of using NHS resources.

"I look forward to working with boards to deliver on this ambitious target for the benefit of patients across the country. I expect that they will now be planning for sustained action to ensure that this pledge is delivered and will closely monitor progress over the coming months."
 

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