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18 Weeks RTT

Waiting Times

NHS National Services Scotland ISD Scotland & NHS National Services Scotland

18 Weeks Referral to Treatment (RTT)

Latest Publications

Published: 29 August 2017
NHS Waiting Times - 18 Weeks Referral to Treatment
Publication Summary Download pdf file [161kb]
Full Report Download pdf file [446kb]
Published: 30 May 2017
NHS Waiting Times - 18 Weeks Referral to Treatment
Publication Summary Download pdf file [155kb]
Full Report Download pdf file [488kb]
Published: 28 February 2017
NHS Waiting Times - 18 Weeks Referral to Treatment
Publication Summary Download pdf file [154kb]
Full Report Download pdf file [440kb]


The 18 Weeks Referral To Treatment (RTT) standard has been set out to by the Scottish Government for a stronger NHS which will make better use of capacity and deliver a better deal for patients.

The 18 Weeks RTT is a whole journey waiting time standard from initial referral to the start of treatment.

The responsibility for delivering the 18 Weeks RTT standard lies with the NHS Board who receives the initial referral, as this Board will be responsible for agreeing with the patient and relevant clinicians the most appropriate pathway of care. In some cases patients may be initially referred to one NHS Board and then have an onward referral to another NHS Board for treatment.

Due to the constraints in current hospital information systems in linking all stages of a patient's journey to measure their waiting time as mentioned above, these statistics are presented on NHS Board of Treatment, the NHS Board where the patient's treatment was started. NHS Boards are in the process of fully implementing upgrades to their systems to improve the data collection.

Until the NHS Boards are in position to link all stages of the patient's journey some unknown waits are reported within the submission. ISD currently reports on the number of patients whose journey could be fully measured that were within 18 weeks. Some unknown waits may also occur due to complexities and multiple pathways. More information can be found within the data quality section.

Definitions and guidance for 18 Weeks RTT have been developed to help ensure that each patient's journey is measured fairly and consistently.

Current Standard

 The 18 Weeks Referral to Treatment (18 Weeks RTT) standard builds on previous waiting time targets, which set maximum waiting times for stages of treatment, for first outpatient consultation, diagnostic tests and for inpatient and day case treatment. 18 Weeks RTT focuses on the entire patient journey from the initial referral to the start of treatment, including for the first time treatment undertaken in an outpatient setting, and promotes a holistic approach to providing clinically effective, safe and efficient care in a timely manner.

The Scottish Government has determined that the 18 Weeks RTT standard should be delivered for at least 90% of patients. This standard allows, for example, the relatively small proportion of cases where it is not clinically appropriate for the patient to be seen and treated within 18 weeks and also to take account of any exceptional increase in demand for secondary care services.

Further detail about NHS Scotland targets can be found at the Scottish Government's Scotland Performs website.

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