NEARLY 3,000 patients waited too long for treatment in A&E in a dramatic spike in waiting times as ministers admitted Scottish hospitals are facing “substantial increased pressure” during winter months.
Across Scotland, 88.3 per cent of patients were seen within four hours and the numbers of patients waiting beyond four, eight and 12 hours were at their highest since the end of February 2015, according to official figures for the week to 10 January.
Health secretary Shona Robison admitted that the week had been challenging but overall performance had improved by five percentage points since this time last year.
Liberal Democrat health spokesman Jim Hume MSP said the Health Secretary should “pull her head out of the sand” over waiting times, particularly at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, where performance fell.
He said: “Staff are working flat out but despite the total number of people attending emergency departments dropping during the first week in January, the number of people waiting over four hours doubled.
“Things are still going downhill in Greater Glasgow & Clyde and in particular at the new ‘super hospital’.
“We know A&E departments are busy. Everyone is looking to the Health secretary and the SNP government to take action on reducing waiting times so patients aren’t left suffering for hours.”
Dr Richard Simpson, Scottish Labour public services spokesman, said: “These shocking figures show that the SNP are failing patients and staff in our NHS. Our NHS staff are being overstretched week in, week out.”
Performance in Glasgow has improved by 6.6 per cent on last year and NHS Borders and NHS Grampian have both made significant improvents, Ms Robison said.
She added: “This is a time of substantial increased pressure on our NHS. We know from previous experience that these weeks are always the period when the performance of our A&E departments are affected most significantly.
“This week’s figures show just how much A&E performance can fluctuate, not only from week to week, but also from hospital to hospital, particularly at this time of year. This first week of the year came after a four-day public holiday, and we know that also impacts on performance the following week.”
“Our clear focus is now on supporting boards and hardworking staff to ease pressure across the system.”