A HEALTH board that was found to have manipulated waiting time figures is the only one in Scotland to fail to meet a key target for treating patients.

Opposition politicians voiced concern about the true impact of the waiting-list "fiddle" and how widespread the practice was in Scotland after the figures published by national statistics body ISD showed that only 85.3% of patients in NHS Lothian began their treatment within 18 weeks of being referred by a GP.

The health board's actual record in treating patients is only now becoming clear following the investigation ordered by Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon into its performance when it was revealed in October that it had manipulated treatment time figures to show it was meeting Government targets.

Patients who refused to travel to England for treatment were removed from the 18-week list and when they declined to go, they were marked as "unavailable for social reasons".

Between January and March, 91.5% of patients across Scotland got medical help within the 18 weeks target from referral to starting treatment. The Scottish Government had set a target of 90% to be achieved by December. It meant that 101,846 patients began their treatment within 18 weeks of being referred, while a total of 9419 people had to wait longer.

In NHS Lothian, 2324 patients had to wait longer than the allotted time.

Labour's health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: "The huge spike in waiting list times is of great concern, and we are beginning to see the real picture since management at NHS Lothian were caught fiddling their figures. People across Scotland will wonder whether these practices are endemic in other health boards."

NHS Lothian's former chief executive, Professor James Barbour, recently retired after presiding over the waiting times scandal. Ms Sturgeon has now demanded an explanation from NHS Lothian about a contract placed by him with a management consultancy firm to advise the board on using private hospitals to meet waiting-time targets.

Ms Baillie added: "One of Scotland's biggest health boards appears to be lurching from crisis to crisis, and the Health Secretary appears to have lost control of NHS Lothian."

Tory spokesman Jackson Carlaw said the waiting times figures showed that "clearly, NHS Lothian has been ill-equipped to deal with the number of patients it receives for many years".

He said the waiting-times "fiddle" at the board had "fraudulently attempted to present disastrous waiting-times facts in a better light" and was "entirely at the expense of patients".

He added: "Had the health board's struggle to deal with waiting lists been made clear years ago, some action could have been taken.

"Instead, we still have patients waiting an unacceptably long time for care and a health board which stands no realistic chance of hitting the targets set."

Ms Sturgeon said NHS Lothian was "working hard" to reduce the figure and she was "proud" the waiting-time target was being met across the country as a whole.

She said: "NHS Lothian are working hard to reduce the numbers of patients breaching the waiting times targets following changes to their recording practices last December. We expect to see a steady decline in these numbers over the coming months."