SNP urged to apologise after waiting time target breached 100,000 times in 2019

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has been urged to apologise after it emerged that a flagship waiting time target has been breached almost 100,000 times this year.

A flagship waiting times target has been breached almost 100,000 times this year, figures have revealed.

The SNP minister has insisted that emergency departments in Scotland were the best performing in the UK despite some areas “falling short”.

Scots patients are expected to be seen, transferred or discharged within four hours of arrival at accident and emergency (A&E) departments.

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But analysis of official figures from ISD Scotland by Scottish Labour shows this has been broken 99,362 times this year up until the week ending 11 August.

Patients were left to wait more than eight hours on more than 10,000 occasions. Some were forced to endure waits of more than 12 hours on 2,110 occasions – waits equivalent to a nurse’s entire shift.

The latest figures also showed that only 88.6 per cent of patients were seen at A&E within four hours, with 370 patients waiting more than eight hours and 121 patients waiting more than 12 hours.

Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said: “Too many people are having to endure unacceptably long waits at A&E departments across Scotland almost every day. This is not the fault of our doctors and nurses. This is the fault of the Health Secretary, who has chronically under-resourced our NHS.

“Jeane Freeman should apologise to the thousands of people who have been forced to endure long waits to get the help they needed.”

The dangers of these long waits for treatment were recently underlined by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, which warned that longer waits in emergency departments can lead to “negative patient outcomes” and avoidable mortality.\

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Throughout the whole of this summer, performance against the A&E target has been worse than it was at the same time last year.

“The SNP Government made a big song and dance of producing a waiting times plan but it doesn’t seem to be having an impact. Waits are longer now. To make matters worse, ministers still haven’t even produced the integrated workforce plan due last year.

“Staff and patients have every right to demand better.”

Ms Freeman insisted nine out of ten patients were seen and either admitted, discharged or transferred within the four-hour A&E target.

“Scotland’s core A&E departments continue to be the best performing in the UK and have been for more than four years and this is thanks to the ongoing hard work and dedication of our NHS staff,” she said.

“Performance is falling short in certain areas and we continue to work pro-actively with health boards to ensure sustainable improvement.”