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Health / Treatment figures ‘aren’t as accurate’ as health board would have hoped

Photo: Shetland News

NHS Shetland has revealed that data on alcohol and drug treatment waiting times which raised concern from local MSP Beatrice Wishart is not entirely accurate.

National targets state that 90 per cent of people needing help with drug or alcohol problems should wait no longer than three weeks for treatment.

The figures in question, for the first quarter of 2023, state that 71 per cent of patients in Shetland had been treated within three weeks.

Shetland ranked the lowest in all of Scotland, whilst 11 boards met the 90 per cent target.

Wishart said: “Having met recently with the service I know how committed staff are in supporting their patients, but NHS Shetland needs the resources to ensure it can treat patients within the standard treatment timeframe target.

“The Scottish Government must immediately commit to greater and equitable support, including financial recognition of the cost of delivering services in Shetland.

“They should also commit to transform the way we approach alcohol and drug misuse and support health boards like NHS Shetland in achieving those goals.”

However, Rhona McArthur, head of mental health at NHS Shetland, told Shetland News in a statement that the figures discussed “aren’t as accurate as we would have hoped” because of a new reporting system.

She said: “The Substance Misuse Recovery Service continues to deliver support and recovery-focused treatment through a multi-disciplinary team working with some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.

“The service has always strived to meet referral to treatment targets not just to comply with data but to ensure those in our communities who need support receive it in a timely manner.

“We have taken a closer look at this data and due to a new data reporting system that we have been using, the figures aren’t as accurate as we would have hoped in this report.

“For example, we know that there were no long waits for alcohol referrals in the last quarter but the data has been recorded incorrectly. We are training further staff to use this system to ensure the data better represents the service in the future.”

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