Patients in Scotland are waiting less than 12 weeks for an outpatient appointment after being referred by a GP or dentist, research shows.

The ISD Scotland findings show NHS Scotland is not only meeting national waiting time standards of a maximum 15 week wait for both outpatients and inpatients and day case treatment, but is exceeding them.

Figures show 99.6 per cent of those waiting for inpatient or day case treatment have waited less than 12 weeks.

NHS Scotland is working towards a whole journey waiting time target of 18 weeks from GP referral to treatment after new targets were announced in June 2007.

The latest data shows it has met targets before the December 2011 deadline.

Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “Driving down waiting times is vital to ensure that patients get the treatment they need as quickly as possible.

“I would like to pay tribute to Scotland’s health boards and staff for their efforts in continuing to deliver a 12 week maximum wait for referrals.

“Although the 12 week target does not come into force until March 2010, the health service is continuing to deliver ahead of schedule.”