Covid Scotland: Long waits at A&E 'putting patients at serious risk'

Long waits at accident and emergency (A&E) departments in Scotland continue to put patient safety at “serious risk”, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine has warned.

New figures from Public Health Scotland show 78 per cent of patients visiting A&E in the week to January 23 were seen and admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

This is an increase on the previous week, but still below the Scottish Government target of 95 per cent.

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It comes as the number of planned operations across NHS Scotland dropped 13 per cent from November to December, to 17,835.

Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty ImagesPhoto by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images
Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images

This was also a 31 per cent fall on the same month in 2019.

Dr John Thomson, vice-president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine in Scotland, said the college was concerned poor A&E performance times are becoming the “status quo”.

“With fewer attendances performance has plateaued, but be in no doubt that the health service and its staff in Scotland remain under unprecedented pressure and increasing burnout,” he said.

Dr Thomson added: “The impact of this continued poor performance is distress and moral injury to staff and serious discomfort and risk to the safety of patients.

"This must be an urgent signal and call to action for system change. We have long called on the Government to open 1,000 more beds in the system in Scotland, and to commit to publishing a long-term workforce plan … quite simply things cannot continue as they are, more patients will come to harm and staff will face increasing distress at the quality of care they are or, more significantly, aren’t able to provide.”

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Scottish Labour said the figures were evidence of an NHS in crisis, which was putting “lives in danger”.

“Make no mistake, despite the heroic efforts of NHS staff, lives are being put in danger due to SNP failure,” said health spokesperson Jackie Baillie.

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“The health secretary must face up to the fact his plan isn’t working and is not fit for purpose.”

Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Dr Sandesh Gulhane said: “It’s clear that Humza Yousaf’s paltry Covid Recovery Plan isn’t cutting it and that all sectors of our NHS need greater resources and leadership to give patients the level of care they need and deserve.”

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