JUST under a third of all patients had to wait longer than four hours to be seen in Scotland’s A&Es at the height of the summer, according to new figures.
That falls far short of the Scottish Government target that 95 per cent of attendees in emergency departments are seen and admitted or discharged within that time frame.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said Scotland’s hospitals were still recovering from the pandemic but, he added, they were outperforming emergency departments elsewhere in the UK.
However, Scottish Tory health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane described the figures as “frightening.”
According to the statistics from Public Health Scotland, 69.9% of the 128,830 attendances at emergency departments were seen within four hours, down from 71.3% in June.
Some 4,483 people in July waited longer than 12 hours at A&E, while 11,884 waited longer than eight hours.
Meanwhile, the most recent weekly figures show just 66.1% of people were seen within four hours in the week up to August 28, rising from 65% the previous week.
Of the 26,555 people who went to A&E during that time, 1,052 waited longer than 12 hours and 2,766 waited longer than eight hours.
Mr Yousaf urged people to consider whether or not they needed to go to A&E: “The pandemic has presented the NHS with the greatest challenge of its 74-year existence.
“Despite this, Scotland continues to have the best performing A&Es in the UK, outperforming those England, Wales and Northern Ireland for seven years.
“Occupancy and staffing pressures remain high across emergency departments and continue to have an impact on the delivery of services.
“Despite this, almost two-thirds of patients are being seen within four hours of arrival.
“As we enter the winter period, people should consider whether their condition is an emergency, such as a stroke, heart attack or major trauma, before going to A&E.
“Local GPs and pharmacies can be contacted during the day for non-critical care, NHS 24 is also available day or night on 111 for non-emergency inquiries.
“We are investing £50 million to drive down waiting times through our Urgent and Unscheduled Care Collaborative programme, including further development of Flow Navigation Centres in every board which aim to ensure rapid access to a clinician and scheduled appointments, where possible.”
Dr Gulhane said the figures will be “frightening for patients and demoralising for dedicated frontline staff”.
“In fact, July’s figures show that things are getting even worse on our emergency wards,” he added.
“It’s completely unacceptable that, at the height of summer, more than three in 10 patients had to wait longer than four hours to be seen, because we know excess delays lead inevitably to avoidable deaths.
“Appalling workforce planning by the SNP lies at the root of the problem, but Humza Yousaf also has to accept that his flimsy Covid Recovery Plan isn’t fit for purpose, and come up with an alternative strategy instead.”
Meanwhile, a separate release of figures showed an increase in delayed discharges.
In July 2022, there were 55,992 days spent in hospital by people whose discharge was delayed. This is an increase of 32% compared with the number of delayed days in July 2021.
Lib Dem leader, Alex Cole-Hamilton said the crisis in social care was “not going away.”
He added: “Month after month we see huge numbers of people waiting to leave hospital who can’t as there is no social care package in place.
“That’s why I’m calling for Humza Yousef to come to Parliament this week to set out a replacement for his failing NHS recovery plan.”
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