Hundreds of patients reporting chronic pain are being left to suffer for more than four months before even being seen as key targets are missed in Scotland’s NHS, new figures have revealed.

According to the figures, more than one-third of chronic pain patients had to wait more than 18 weeks for their first appointment after being referred.

The official national standard is chronic pain sufferers should wait no longer than 18 weeks to be seen.

But statistics published by ISD Scotland show hundreds of people are having to wait longer.

The official figures show that, of the 3,227 patients who were seen for their first appointment between January 1 and March 31 this year, 1,168 (36 per cent) had been waiting longer than 18 weeks.

Just under 64% attended within 18 weeks of referral, down from 70.8% in the previous quarter.

Of the 4,742 patients who were still waiting for their first appointment on March 31, 653 (13.8%) had been waiting for more than 18 weeks.

The Scottish Government introduced an 18-week standard for being seen for an appointment in 2011.

Now Scottish Labour is demanding a review of chronic pain waiting times, with the party’s health spokeswoman Monica Lennon saying it was “scandalous” that some patients were having to wait more than four months for an appointment.

“Chronic pain waiting times have shown no sign of improvement and now seem to be getting worse,” said Ms Lennon.

“It’s scandalous that thousands of Scots in chronic pain have to wait over four months for their first appointment, and it’s clear that this needs urgent attention.

“The SNP Government must review why this is happening, and answer tough questions about why, after 12 years in government, chronic pain waiting times are getting worse instead of better.”

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said the Government was aware that there were areas for improvement.

He said: “Living with chronic pain can be incredibly difficult for sufferers and we are determined to improve services for all those affected. I want to thank all staff for their continued hard work and dedication to delivering these services.

“There are areas in Scotland where everyone referred to a pain clinic for their first treatment appointment is seen within the 18-week standard. However, we know that in some areas there is a need for improvement and we will continue to work with relevant NHS boards to improve performance.

“Scotland is the only part of the UK to routinely publish this data, which is a clear sign of our commitment to making improvements for people living with chronic pain. The Scottish Government has also funded essential work at the University of Dundee to improve the breadth, consistency and quality of chronic pain data available.

“This work will help to develop the necessary high-quality data required to drive improvements to services and reduce waiting times.”

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs said: “This is yet another truly depressing set of figures from the SNP’s health service.

“The SNP’s failure is forcing thousands of patients to wait longer in pain and suffering.

“These waiting times are extremely frustrating for doctors and nurses also.

“The Health Secretary’s promised resources and action plans to tackle these endless waiting times are not working. “This is just another worrying demonstration of the SNP’s inability to run a health service that meets the needs of patients or staff.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “For patients battling chronic pain day in, day out, these long waits for treatment must be excruciating.

“Hundreds of people are being made to wait months for help with chronic pain that in many cases is seriously limiting their lives.

“The Health Secretary must do more than just sympathise. She needs to alleviate the pressure on our hardworking NHS professionals by giving them the support and resources they need to get the job done.”