NHS mystery

While I am sure we all feel for NHS chief executive Paul Gray and his cohorts as they tackle the North Face of A&E (“Moving patients is concerning”, 23 June), he will not need reminding that any data used to inform decision-making should stand up to scrutiny. The statement that long waits etc are 
“normally linked to the winter months” may be correct, but an analysis of Information & 
Statistics Division data on A&E attendances across Scotland in the past five years suggests to me an average monthly rate of 134,000.

Against this purely notional figure, I find that attendances during the months from October to February are consistently below the average (February is even 10 per cent below), while the busier months are from March to September (May in particular is 8 per cent above average).

A recent press article suggested that earlier this year 15 per cent of NHS Lothian beds were blocked by delayed discharges, and attendances alone are perhaps not the prime marker, but I wonder why waiting times etc appear to be better when the departments are busier.

Answers on a postcard please.

James Sandeman

Scone Place

Newton Mearns