Slight improvement recorded for A&E waiting times
Statistics from Public Health Scotland released on Tuesday show 65.3% of emergency department attendees were seen and subsequently admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours in the week to October 16.
This figure is a slight rise from the 64.2% recorded in the week before.
The Scottish Government has said 95% of patients should be seen within the four-hour target, but this has not been met since the early days of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, some 3,051 people waited more than eight hours in A&E departments, a decrease from 3,553 the previous week.
The number of people who waited half a day at A&E also fell slightly, from 1,506 to 1,350.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “A&E departments are working under significant pressure and, in common with healthcare systems in the UK and globally, the pandemic continues to affect services.
“Recovery from the pandemic will not happen overnight and we are working with boards on measures to reduce pressure as we enter what will be a challenging winter period.
“We will recruit 1,000 new NHS staff, including 750 frontline nurses from overseas. Our £50 million Urgent and Unscheduled Care Collaborative looks to drive down A&E waits by offering alternatives to hospital, such as Hospital at Home, directing people to more appropriate urgent care settings and scheduling urgent appointments to avoid long waits.
“The rollout of our Out-patient Antimicrobial Therapy service allows patients to be treated at home or in the community and has already saved 45,000 bed days.
“A&E pressures are being driven by delays in discharge elsewhere in our hospitals. That’s why a focus of our winter plan is on social care and actions to encourage integration authorities to help ease delays.”
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane said: “Scotland’s sky-high A&E waiting times are a full-blown scandal – months before we even hit the peak of winter pressures.
“It’s a tragedy that over a third of patients have once again waited more than four hours in pain and distress in our emergency departments this week on Humza Yousaf’s watch. And even when people are finally seen, they are being treated in chaotic surroundings in corridors and waiting rooms instead of beds.
“Staff and patients in our emergency departments are experiencing some of the worst conditions in living memory and people are terrified.
“Our heroic NHS staff are working flat-out to try and give patients the care they deserve, but the reality is that patients will continue to die needlessly as a result of these delays.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Week in, week out, we are told how seriously the SNP are taking this crisis, yet their inaction as this crisis continues to deepen is shocking.
“I have been proposing solutions to relieve the pressure on our NHS staff and patients for months, but Humza Yousaf just has his fingers in his ears and his party has voted them down. His own NHS winter statement was completely devoid of substance. We cannot carry on like this.”