About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) contains an update on how long patients wait for a first outpatient appointment at Allied Health Professional (AHP) led Musculoskeletal (MSK) services. The Scottish Government has determined that at least 90% of patients should wait no longer than four weeks to be seen from receipt of referral.

Main points

During the quarter ending 31 March 2022:

  • 56,934 patients were seen at a first outpatient appointment at an AHP-led clinic for MSK conditions, a decrease of 5.2% compared with the quarter ending 31 December 2021, but an increase of 24.6% from the same quarter a year ago (45,696 patients). This level, however, remains 29.6% fewer than the average seen during quarters of 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Image caption Patients seen and proportion within 4 weeks, January 2019 - March 2022
  • 54.7% of patients were seen within the target of four weeks of referral, a similar level to the previous quarter (54.3%), but higher than 45.3% of patients on average in 2019.
  • 87,190 patients were referred to MSK services, an increase of 4.7% compared with the previous quarter but still fewer than the average of 111,366 referrals received in quarters in 2019.
  • There were 71,509 patients waiting, an increase of 13.1% compared with the end of the previous quarter at 31 December 2021 and 76.7% more than were waiting a year ago at 31 March 2021 (40,473 patients). The waiting list is at a similar level to the average at the end of quarters during 2019 prior to the onset of the pandemic (71,907 patients).


The statistics presented in this release are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has changed referral and treatment patterns within these services.

The AHP MSK data collection covers services for Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Chiropody/Podiatry, Orthotics and the Musculoskeletal Advice and Triage Service (MATS) operated by NHS24. The MATS helpline has been suspended since March 2020; therefore, this data is excluded from the publication report and summary in order to present a consistent trend.

AHP MSK data is sourced from the national waiting times warehouse with the following exceptions for this release. Local aggregate data for January - September 2020 are included for NHS Borders as their data remains affected by a software problem with their Patient Management System (PMS). NHS Western Isles Occupational Therapy data have been excluded as national reporting is not supported by the Morse PMS.

The waiting time used for this target is an adjusted waiting time, with adjustments made up to 4 weeks based on the NHSScotland Waiting Times Guidance.

Further information

The next release of this publication will be 20 September 2022.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.ahpmsk@phs.scot.

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

Requesting other formats and reporting issues

If you require publications or documents in other formats, please email phs.otherformats@phs.scot.

To report any issues with a publication, please email phs.generalpublications@phs.scot.

Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 07 October 2022
Was this page helpful?