'New Ways of Defining and Measuring Waiting Times' has introduced a significant change in how NHS Scotland collects and defines waiting times, and also how waiting lists are clinically and administratively managed. The aim of these changes is to make the management of waiting clear and transparent, and consistent throughout Scotland.
From the 1st January 2008 New Ways introduced a nationally-consistent arrangement that takes periods of patient unavailability into account when measuring and reporting waiting times. There is no longer any exclusion because a hospital decides treatment is of low clinical priority or too highly specialised.
New Ways has also introduced a way of dealing fairly and appropriately with patients who do not attend appointments or who refuse a reasonable offer of an appointment. Replacing the system of 'Availability Status Codes'
It makes explicit the shared responsibility of patients, GPs and hospital services to communicate changes in circumstances to facilitate efficient management of waiting and scheduling of care and to keep patients informed of their waiting status and the reasons.
Patients who become unavailable for any reason - medical or social - will also no longer lose their waiting time guarantee, as would have happened prior to January 2008. Instead, any periods of unavailability will be taken account of when measuring the patient's total waiting time.
The best way of thinking about the new approach is that each patient will have a personal waiting time clock. The clock starts when the GP's referral is received by the hospital or when a decision is made to provide treatment. The patient must be seen or treated before the clock shows the maximum waiting time. Where a patient is unavailable for treatment, the clock will stop and be restarted when the period of unavailability ends.
A patient leaflet explaining 'New Ways' in more detail can be accessed by clicking on the appropriate link below.
Further information on 'New Ways' is also available from the National website: www.newways.scot.nhs.uk