Shona Robison under fire over failure to hit A&E waiting times

Patients are facing delays in many A&E departments across Scotland, the latest figures show. Picture: Greg Macvean
Patients are facing delays in many A&E departments across Scotland, the latest figures show. Picture: Greg Macvean
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More than 92,000 patients have waited longer than the SNP’s interim four-hour accident and emergency (A&E) target in the last year. new figures show.

Patients’ rights campaigners warned that a failure to reduce waiting times could have fatal consequences for those admitted with conditions that turn out to be more serious than initially thought.

There could be very serious consequences that could quite easily prove to be fatal unless we get on top of this. It’s really unacceptable

Margaret Watt, Scotland Patients Association

The catalogue of delays was published to mark the first anniversary of figures for Scotland’s A&E treatment waiting times being published on a weekly basis.

It found that 92,208 patients waited longer than four hours during the year long period.

There were 8,278 patients who waited more than eight hours in the past year, and 1,284 who have waited longer than 12 hours during the same period, according to the analysis from Scottish Labour.

The delays included more than 7,500 patients who waited more than four hours at the £850 million flagship Glasgow Queen Elizabeth University Hospital since it opened in May last year.

More than 1,337 patients waited more than eight hours at the Royal Edinburgh Infirmary and nearly 350 patients waited more than 12 hours at Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride.

Margaret Watt, of the Scotland Patients Association, warned that lengthy waits for treatment could lead to ambulances being snarled up at accident and emergency departments, as well as posing a risk to vulnerable patients.

She said: “How do we know that some of these patients haven’t had strokes or heart attacks? There could be very serious consequences that could quite easily prove to be fatal unless we get on top of this .”

She added: “It’s really unacceptable that people are having to sit for hours and hours in A&E.

“We need a review of it all to see what can be done and how services can be planned in a better way.”

Scottish Labour public services spokesman Dr Richard Simpson said the findings should act as a “wake-up call” to the Scottish Government about the NHS. Dr Simpson, a former GP, also called for greater investment in primary and social care to take the pressure off of our hospitals.

He said: “Now more than ever we need a health service based on patient need not the ability to pay.”

Health secretary Shona Robison, responding to the findings, said: “Nationally, Scotland’s core accident and emergency waiting times have been better than elsewhere in the UK for the last ten months, with well over a million people seen within the four hour A&E target last year.”