In a Freedom of Information request, it was revealed that the average waiting time for pulmonary rehabilitation services was between 12-18 months in 2022.

Linda McLeod BEM, chair of Breathe Easy Clackmannanshire, suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) emphysema and said that current treatment plans are "getting ridiculous".

She told the Advertiser: "Living with a lung disease is scary. One in five people in Scotland suffer from lung disease.

"Anything that can be done to help people with lung conditions, it surely has to go ahead."

Pulmonary rehab is an exercise-based approach to reducing and easing the symptoms of breathlessness in lung issues.

Patients work on tailor made exercise plans which allows them to better understand and manage their condition.

Linda continued: "There used to be a TV health pulmonary rehab centre at the Clackmannanshire Community Healthcare Centre, which streamed from Larbert, but it's no longer there.

"It used to run for 45 minutes twice a week and treatment like that does make a difference to somebody suffering from lung disease, that I do know.

"I'd like to see something like that started up again – something for the patients here in Clackmannanshire instead of having to travel a distance.

"We have one member of Breathe Easy who has to travel outwith the Wee County for their treatment, while two other members are still on the waiting list. It's getting ridiculous now."

In 2021, the Scottish Government released their respiratory care – action plan: 2021 to 2026 in a bid to bolster improvement in prevention, diagnosis and care of people with lung disease.

Joseph Carter, head of Asthma + Lung UK Scotland, said: "Although we are grateful that we have a national action plan, we are concerned about the lack of progress.

"This can be seen in the unacceptable wait for, or indeed lack of, vital respiratory rehabilitation for thousands of people with a lung disease across the country."

Alexander Stewart, MSP for mid-Scotland and Fife, called for the action plan to be properly backed so that localities can provide their patients with expert care.

He said: "These NHS Forth Valley pulmonary rehab waiting times are completely unacceptable.

"It is an 'action plan' and not an 'inaction plan'. It must be fully funded so health boards such as Forth Valley are able to rebuild services in their localities."

In response, NHS Forth Valley explained that patients are assessed and patients in need of urgent care are prioritised and seen early.

A spokesperson added: "Rehab is delivered every 8-10 weeks rotating over three localities along with a virtual programme.

"Capacity varies depending on local venues so the waiting time may also vary depending on demand and local capacity although patients can also access a virtual rehabilitation programme."

The Scottish Government spokesperson added: "The Scottish Government recognises the value of pulmonary rehab for people living with lung conditions such as COPD, and that is why access to pulmonary rehab is a priority in the Respiratory Care Action Plan.

“The British Thoracic Society plans to publish a refreshed pulmonary rehabilitation guideline later this year, and we will work to support its implementation across Scotland.

“We are also beginning work with Public Health Scotland to establish the feasibility of a respiratory audit programme and data set. This would improve the respiratory data available, including that for pulmonary rehab services.”

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