Covid Scotland: A&E performance reaches second-worst ever as record numbers wait over 4 hours

The percentage of people dealt with at Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments in Scotland within the government target of four hours has reached its second-worst level on record.

Just 68 per cent of people visiting A&E in the week to March 13 were admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours, according to new figures from Public Health Scotland (PHS). The Scottish Government target is 95 per cent.

It is the second-worst performance since records began in February 2015, behind only the first week of January this year, when 67 per cent was achieved.

The highest number of people since records began waited over four, eight and 12 hours.

Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images

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It comes as hospitals struggle to cope with record numbers of Covid patients, alongside non-Covid care backlogs and high numbers of staff absences.

Several health boards have said they are facing the worst conditions they have ever seen.

Responding to the A&E figures, Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said:

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: "Under Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf this crisis has not only rumbled on for months with no end in sight, but the fact that we still continue to see new lows week after week truly shows the scale of the SNP's failure to get this crisis under control.

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“Even before the anyone had ever heard of Covid-19 our A&E departments had been in crisis, there is no doubt that this is the end result of 15 years of SNP mismanagement, poor workforce planning and a lack of vision. Staff are exhausted and patients are being left waiting in interminable queues.”

Scottish Labour health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said the Scottish Government had allowed a “permanent crisis” to take hold.

“Week after week we are facing new lows in A&E performance – with patients being put in danger as a result,” she said.

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“That 747 Scots waited over 12 hours for A&E treatment in only a week is scandalous. A&E services are in permanent crisis and the responsibility for that lies solely with the SNP.”

Scottish Conservative health spokesperson Dr Sandesh Gulhane labelled the figures were “deplorable” because “tragically we know excess waits for emergency treatment lead to a needless loss of life, as sure as night follows day”.

He added: “The crisis on Scotland’s A&E wards is not only never-ending, it’s deepening – and still the Health Secretary is conspicuous by his silence.

“Health boards are pleading with patients not to visit A&E unless it’s essential because they are beyond breaking point.”

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A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "Unfortunately, the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has now reached the highest level since the start of the pandemic and this rise in recent weeks has inevitably had an impact on services like A&E.

"Hospitals continue to face capacity issues as a result of staff absence and reduced beds due to infection controls, with more acutely unwell patients meaning longer stays. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our healthcare staff who are continuing to provide vital treatment and optimal patient care.”

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