Provisional figures released on Wednesday show more than 7,000 patients are still waiting for treatment, despite a pledge in July by the health secretary the backlog would be “eradicated” in most specialties last month, according to a Scottish Government press release.
Humza Yousaf said at the time the target, which was announced alongside a raft of others, was “ambitious”, but “achievable”.
A report published by Public Health Scotland on Tuesday showed some 7,650 Scots still waiting after two years for inpatient or daycase procedures as of September 30.
The figure has seen a significant reduction since the last release on June 30, when it stood at 10,066.
Broken down by specialties, 13 of the 30 listed areas showed no patients waiting, while the remaining 17 specialties showed at least one, with 2,152 people waiting for an orthopaedics procedure, 1,610 in general surgery, 1,327 in ear, nose and throat and 1,041 in urology.
The Scottish Government pointed out 18 of the specialties have less than ten patients waiting less than two years.
Of the specialties with no patients waiting longer than two years, the figures show just one of them saw a reduction since the June statistics, with the single case in paediatrics receiving treatment.
NHS Dumfries and Galloway is the only health board in the country with no-one waiting for an inpatient procedure, while NHS Grampian (2,120) and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (1,758) with the most.
But all of Scotland’s health boards have shown a reduction in the past three months, with the Glasgow board dropping by more than 1,000 patients.
Mr Yousaf said the figures were a “step forward”, but admitted there were still challenges ahead.
“It is through the dedication and resilience of NHS staff that we have been able to clear a significant amount of two-year inpatient waits,” he said.
“This is a positive step forward in our recovery from the pandemic and will help ease pressure on the NHS over winter.
“But challenges remain and there are still unacceptable waits in orthopaedics, general surgery and urology – I am determined to provide the support necessary to drive improvements in these specialities.”
Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie accused the Government of “shocking incompetence”, adding: “The pandemic can be blamed no longer – that thousands are waiting for over two years on waiting lists is symbolic of this SNP government’s deadly neglect of our NHS.”