The NHS in Scotland has significantly improved the quality and safety of its healthcare over the past year, according to a report.

The health service in Scotland achieved a maximum wait of nine weeks for all inpatient and day-case treatments.

Hospital-acquired infection numbers dropped, with a 37% fall recorded for MRSA/MSSA cases and a 71% fall for Clostridium difficile (C diff) cases.

The data is published in NHS Scotland Chief Executive’s Annual Report 2010-11.

NHS Scotland chief Derek Feeley said: “It is crucial that the public have confidence in the quality and effectiveness of their NHS care and treatment.

“The Healthcare Quality Strategy for Scotland, launched in May 2010, was designed to support those efforts by providing the basis for us to work with partners and the public towards a shared vision of a world-leading, safe and effective NHS.

“Since its launch it has helped us achieve significant improvements in the quality of care at a time when waiting times for outpatient and inpatient appointments have reached their shortest ever.

“This includes major reductions in healthcare-associated infection and measurable improvements in patient safety across Scotland’s hospitals.”

The chief executive also reported the highest-ever rate of day surgery for the period, £595 million-worth of “efficiency savings” and that the number of people with diagnosed dementia had increased by a third.

Over the past three years NHS Scotland helped 89,075 smokers to successfully quit and carried out 174,000 alcohol “brief interventions” to help tackle harmful and hazardous drinking.

The Patient Safety Programme, implemented in every acute hospital in Scotland to reduce “adverse events”, also reported successes for 2010-11.

One such success was a 73% drop in central-line infections, which are hospital-associated infections occurring in all intensive care units for many years and can include MRSA but not C diff.

The NHS said the achievements have helped Scotland secure an international conference by the International Society for Quality in Healthcare in 2013.

Mr Feeley said: “I want to pay tribute to the NHS staff who, despite these challenging times, have enabled us to deliver these improvements in patient care; firm foundations on which we must all continue to build.

“I therefore welcome the news that Scotland has successfully managed to secure the bid for the 2013 conference of the International Society for Quality in Healthcare, which recognises our increasing profile in the field of safety and quality in healthcare.

“It will provide an opportunity for us to showcase the quality and safety work taking place in NHS Scotland, while also enabling us to learn from what is happening elsewhere.”