Scottish A&E times improve again but third of patients still wait too long



WAITING time performances across Scotland’s A&E departments have improved for a second week, but almost a third of patients are still waiting too long to be seen.

Opposition parties said a “shameful” state of crisis was becoming “the new normal” under SNP health Secretary Humza Yousaf and accused him of inaction

Figures from Public Health Scotland showed 67.9 per cent of those attending casualty were seen within the four-hour target in the week ending July 17.

This was up from 66.7% the previous week and a record low of 64.8% the week before that.

The oficial A&E target, which has not been met nationally since July 2020, is for 95% of patients to be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

The figure has been below 70% in Scotland since the week ending May 22.

The new data also revealed small falls in the overall number of people enduring long waits, although the numbers remain close to their historic peak.

The number waiting more than four hours last week fell from 8,181  to 8,034, the number waiting more than eight hours fell from 2,567  to 2,413, and the number waiting more than 12 hours fell from 910  to 901.

The improvements were in spite of A&E attendances rising from 24,604 to 25,048.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has warned the significant delays are harming or killing more than 30 patients a week. 

A key factor is a lack of social care places leading to the delayed discharge of patients medically fit enough to leave hospital.

This in turn creates a shortage of beds, making it harder to advance patients through A&E.

In the week to July 10, two of Scotland’s 14 regional health boards saw less than half of their A&E patients on time. Last week, all boards saw more than half their patients on time.

The worst performing board was NHS Fife, where just 54.2% of A&E patients were handled within four hours, with NHS Lanarkshire on 57.9% and NHS Forth Valley on 60.2%.

Tory MSP Dr Sandesh Gulhane said: “These latest dreadful figures are all the more worrying because they come at what is traditionally the least busy time of year on our emergency wards.

“It’s a shameful reflection on Humza Yousaf that, at the height of summer, almost a third of patients are having to wait more than four hours to be seen – including more than 900 people who had to wait over 12 hours – because excess A&E delays lead directly to lives being needlessly lost.

“This crisis is a product of the SNP’s dire workforce planning over several years, which has left heroic frontline NHS workers simply unable to cope with the huge demands placed on them.

“The Health Secretary also has to realise his flimsy Covid Recovery Plan isn’t cutting it and needs replacing – but sadly the SNP are more fixated with pushing for another divisive referendum than on fixing Scotland’s NHS.”

Scottish Labour deputy Jackie Baillie said: “The crisis in our NHS A&E departments is stubbornly persisting thanks to the inaction of Humza Yousaf. 

“Thousands of Scots are now waiting over 8 hours for ‘emergency’ treatment on a weekly basis – this is a scandal. 

“Lives are being lost now, but the Health Secretary is missing in action and the SNP government is distracted by constitutional sabre-rattling. 

  

“Overworked and undervalued NHS staff are working to exhaustion but they are being failed by a government that is simply not interested in supporting them in their vital work. 

“It’s time the Health Secretary got back to work and did his job by ending this deadly crisis.” 

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “The SNP’s target for A&E waiting times is 95% seen within 4 hours, we have not even seen figures above 70% since May. Extreme wait times which put lives at risk are fast becoming the SNP’s new normal.

“Yet despite this ongoing crisis, the SNP-Green government have decided to shift focus to an unwanted independence referendum, rather than take action to reduce waiting times.

“Patients deserve to be seen for treatment quickly and close to home, and staff should not be abandoned in a state of perpetual crisis. Sadly after 15 years of SNP mismanagement that seems less likely than ever.

“The Health Secretary must move his focus back to the A&E crisis now and listen to Scottish Liberal Democrat calls for a staff burnout prevention strategy and a Health and Social Care Staff Assembly. We need the Scottish Government to be working hard on solving this crisis, not wasting effort on an unwanted independence referendum.”

 





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