FMQs: Nicola Sturgeon concedes A&E department record low figures 'not good enough'

Nicola Sturgeon has conceded the performance at accident-and-emergency (A&E) departments at Scottish hospitals is “not good enough” as it was revealed a woman had waited 84 hours for treatment.

However, the First Minister argued that when compared to the NHS in the rest of the United Kingdom, Scotland was performing the best among the four nations.

The comments came after both the SNP leader and her health secretary Humza Yousaf were told to “do their job” and reduce NHS waiting times.

Figures show just 63.5 per cent of patients were seen and subsequently admitted or discharged within four hours at A&E departments in the week up to September 11 – a record low for Scotland.

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Earlier this week, Mr Yousaf conceded the NHS in Scotland was facing an “exceptionally difficult winter”. But he was given a show of support by the First Minister’s official spokesperson, who said the minister was “doing a good job in incredibly challenging circumstances”.

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Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Ms Sturgeon admitted: “As the health secretary said earlier this week, the most recent performance in accident and emergency is not good enough.

"I am very clear about the need for improvement. The most recent performance, of course, does reflect the very significant pressure across health and social care, arising obviously from the two-year pandemic, but also from some pre-existing factors – the changing demographics of our country, for example.”

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Scottish Parliament

Ms Sturgeon added: “We are investing more to support further recruitment, overseas recruitment included … the chief operating officer of the NHS also wrote to health boards this week with five additional specific actions that we are expecting health boards to take. We do expect to see improvement and we want to see that improvement starting to be visible immediately.”

Scottish Tories leader Douglas Ross had attacked Ms Sturgeon over “hollow words” around A&E waiting times, citing a case where a woman in Ayrshire had needed to wait 84 hours for treatment.

“That’s the worst waiting times on record and it’s only September,” he said.

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"Our doctors, our nurses and staff are doing outstanding work, but we know the pressures on our NHS only get worse over the winter.”

Anas Sarwar, the leader of Scottish Labour, told Ms Sturgeon that Scots were “sick of the same old excuses” and the SNP “looking for someone else or something else to blame”.

"Across Scotland people are getting the same inadequate answer from this Government – wait,” he said.

“Wait in fear for a cancer diagnosis, wait in pain for a hip replacement, wait for others in an ambulance outside A&E, wait anxiously for their child to get mental health treatment and today we discover that life expectancy has dropped again, for a second year running, all under Nicola Sturgeon’s watch.

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“After 15 years in power, after 15 years of running our NHS, how long will the people of Scotland have to wait for you and your health secretary to do your job?”

The First Minister replied: “We will continue to do our jobs and, ultimately, as always it is for the people of Scotland to decide whether they want us to continue to do our jobs.”

She added: “A two-year pandemic for Scotland, for every country, has presented real and very significant challenges and every day we seek to address these challenges and support those on the front line who are doing that.”

All episodes of the brand new limited series podcast, How to be an independent country: Scotland’s Choices, are out now.

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It is available wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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