Scotland’s A&E departments missing targets

Picture: John Devlin

Picture: John Devlin

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MORE than 500 patients spent more 12 hours in over-stretched Accident and Emergency Departments from October to December last year, newly released figures have revealed.

Official statistics also showed that more than 4,000 patients spent more than eight hours in A&E departments over the same period, which also saw the Scottish Government miss its target to treat the vast majority of patients within four hours.

Opposition politicians and health professionals expressed dismay at the figures, which recorded the highest number of patients attending A&E departments since records began.

More than 1.6 million people attended A&E throughout 2014, an unprecedented figure that saw the Health Secretary Shona Robison acknowledge that the winter had seen “unprecedented pressures” in hospitals.

The Scottish Government figures showed that 4,028 people spent more than eight hours waiting to be seen at A&E units, with 517 people facing waits of over 12 hours.

The Scottish Government targets set for A&E departments is for at least 95 per cent of patients to be seen within four hours.

However, in October and November last year, performance against the four-hour target was 91.8 per cent, while in December it fell to 89.9 per cent.

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Across the quarter as a whole, 91 per cent of patients were seen at A&E departments within the four-hour target, according to Government figures.

The numbers are below the overall performance in England, but better than the English performance in so-called “core sites” where there are major A&E departments in the big cities.

The Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy said the figures “expose the crisis in our NHS under the SNP”.

“Patients across Scotland are told regularly by SNP ministers that they should be grateful things are not as bad as in England,” Mr Murphy said.

“Now we know that under the SNP, things are even worse in Scotland. That’s just not good enough and Scotland deserves better.

“Scotland’s NHS staff do great work to give people the care they need, but patients and health service staff are being let down by SNP ministers.

“Scottish Labour’s plan to fund an extra 1,000 nurses in Scotland’s NHS, using the money raised from a mansion tax on homes worth more than £2 million, will ease the pressure on NHS staff. We will target these extra nurses at key pressure points like A&E units across Scotland.”

Jim Hume, the Lib Dem health spokesman, said the figures showed that Scotland’s A&E units were “under pressure cooker conditions”.

He said: “ Performance against the target is at its lowest in years with as many as 55 people each day waiting over eight hours to be seen. The SNP has taken its eye off the ball and now even the revised-down target of 95 percent of patients to be seen within four hours is falling further from view.

“We need swift action if we are going to address these problems and support NHS staff. With performance worsening and showing no sign of improvement, people will want to know what the Health Secretary is going to do today to tackle the A&E crisis. Serious consideration must be given towards bringing forward the publication of the Scottish

Government’s review into out of hours care.”

The Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said: “We have seen a culture grow where people all too often head for A&E when other options would be more appropriate but that alone cannot explain this extremely disappointing result.

“The SNP has been far too concerned with delivering free prescriptions to those who can readily afford them and far too little concerned with front line nursing and investment in GP primary care.

“The Scottish Conservatives have long argued for 1000 additional nurses to be the priority and a GP attached national health visiting services to be re-established along with a substantial investment and refocusing of GP practices.”

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