A&E waiting time performance second worst on record

Waiting times in accident and emergency departments in Scotland are the second worst on record, with almost a third of patients having to wait longer than four hours.

Waiting times in accident and emergency departments in Scotland are the second worst on record, with almost a third of patients having to wait longer than four hours.
Waiting times in accident and emergency departments in Scotland are the second worst on record, with almost a third of patients having to wait longer than four hours.

Just 69.7% of A&E patients were seen within four hours in the week ending December 12, according to the latest NHS Scotland weekly figures.

A total of 7,285 people waited longer than four hours before they were attended to, including 1,803 who had to wait more than eight hours, and 598 who were left waiting for more than 12 hours.

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The 30.3% of patients admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours in the latest weekly data is the second worst figure on record – with the worst being recorded in October.

The Scottish Government’s target of 95% of patients being seen within four hours has not been met since July 2020.

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NHS Forth Valley was once again the worst-performing health board, with more than half (50.8%) of its A&E patients waiting four hours or more.

It was followed by NHS Lanarkshire (39.5%) and NHS Borders (31.2%).

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In the week before, NHS Tayside became the first mainland health board to exceed the 95% target since the end of June 2021 – seeing 97.6% of its 1,400 A&E patients within four hours.

But in the latest figures this number dropped to 90.3%.

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The health boards that managed to exceed the government target were NHS Orkney (95.3%), NHS Shetland (96.9%) and NHS Western Isles (96.4%).

In response to the figures, Scottish Conservatives health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane said the latest “awful” figures are “a grim reminder of (Health Secretary) Humza Yousaf’s failure to get a grip of the crisis in Scotland’s emergency wards”.

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“More people waiting longer to be seen in A&E leads – tragically but inevitably – to avoidable deaths,” he said.

“So our NHS is crying out for a clear and thorough strategy from the SNP Government to tackle this crisis – yet the Health Secretary’s recent silence is deafening.

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“His flimsy Covid recovery plan just isn’t cutting it, and, despite the wonderful support of UK armed forces and his appeal for the public to think twice before attending A&E, Humza Yousaf appears to be at the mercy of events rather than influencing them.”

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Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “We are now in the midst of one of the toughest winters to face our NHS and it is clear that A&E services are buckling under the pressure.

“Despite the heroic work of frontline staff, our underfunded and overstretched A&E departments are in crisis.

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“The challenges facing our emergency departments are not new or unpredicted. Despite warning after warning, Humza Yousaf has entirely failed to act – lives are now on the line due to his inaction.

“With Omicron cases set to surge, we urgently need greater support for A&E services and the staff that work in them. Failure to do so risks the collapse of A&E services across the country and avoidable loss of life.”

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The Scottish Government has been approached for comment.