More than half of chronic pain patients waited longer than 18 weeks for an appointment during the three months up to June 30, the latest figures show.
Data from Public Health Scotland revealed the proportion of patients waiting more than four months for their first appointment increased significantly during the second quarter of 2020.
The figure rose to 52.9% at the end of June, compared with 15.4% for the same period the previous year.
The coronavirus pandemic led to a majority of chronic pain services being paused from March onwards as clinicians were redeployed to other roles.
During the quarter ending June 30, a total of 547 patients were seen at pain clinics, a reduction of about 80% from the same period in 2019.
Scottish Labour said pain clinics should be restored urgently as the NHS remobilises.
The party’s health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said: “Chronic pain patients endured long waiting times before coronavirus and they have been let down badly by the Scottish Government during the pandemic.
“Pain clinics and treatments must be restored urgently.
“With over half of all chronic pain patients waiting over 18 weeks for a first appointment, it is little surprise that so many have been forced to seek treatment outside of Scotland.”
She added: “People living with chronic pain conditions must not be forgotten as the NHS emerges from lockdown.
“The Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has been warned that neglecting chronic pain patients is causing misery to thousands of Scots.
“Getting NHS services up and running must be the Scottish Government’s priority.”
Responding to the figures, a Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We appreciate how difficult it has been for people who have had procedures or treatments postponed due to the pandemic and for those with chronic pain whose quality of life is affected.
“During the pandemic, emergency and urgent care has been and is being provided, including treatment for pain as a result of emergency, acute presentations, infusion pumps for palliative care and treatment for complex regional pain syndrome.
“Health boards have also offered virtual or telephone consultations to help people with pain management.
“Nationally we have produced tailored advice and guidance to help people self-manage their condition and access local and online support services.”
She added: “We remain committed to resuming the full range of pain services as quickly as it safe to do so and we will shortly publish a Covid-19 recovery framework for NHS pain management services to continue to inform this activity.”
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