Patients left in pain as waiting time target missed again

A failure to give NHS staff the support needed to treat accident and emergency patients within four hours has left hundreds of patients in pain, opposition parties claimed today.

Hundreds of Scots patients face long waiting times before treatment
Hundreds of Scots patients face long waiting times before treatment

New NHS performance statistics for A&E in the last week of April, showed that only 87 per cent of patients were seen, and admitted or discharged, within the legal four hour waiting time target.

Out of the 29,479 people who attended A&E, 412 patients spend more than eight hours waiting to be seen, with 135 spending more than 12 hours waiting for treatment.

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It is the twenty first consecutive month that the government's target of 95 per cent has not been met.

Jeane Freeman. Picture: John Devlin

Today Scottish Labour's health spokesperson, Monica Lennon, said: “Only weeks ago SNP Health Secretary Jeane Freeman admitted that too many patients in Scotland were waiting too long for treatment – and these A&E figures are a worrying example of that.

"NHS staff in our A&E departments work incredibly hard but they simply are not receiving the support they need to see and treat all patients within the targets set by the SNP government.

“We see delayed discharge rising again today, with more patients stuck in hospital when they don’t need to be there, mainly because of delays to accessing social care. That has an impact on capacity right through our NHS – like longer A&E waiting times.

“People are being forced to wait in pain for treatment longer than they were promised they would have to. They need a government that faces the facts and delivers the support our NHS needs."

And Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton said: "These new statistics are very disappointing and show performance against the four hour target is once again slipping because the SNP aren’t properly resourcing the NHS.

“Doctors and nurses work incredibly hard, but they can only do so much. Social care, mental health and primary care services are all crying out for more investment and failures in those spheres are slowing down our hospitals.

“We’re heading towards two years of the SNP failing to meet the target that they set for themselves. Week after week these statistics are dropped onto the Health Secretary’s desk but we haven’t seen progress."

However Health Secretary Jeane Freeman pointed to the figures for March in which "more than nine out of 10 patients were seen and treated within the four hour A&E target despite continuing high attendances."

She added: "Scotland’s core accident and emergency departments have outperformed those in the rest of the UK for more than four years. We recognise that performance is falling short of the 95 per cent target on a weekly basis and we continue to work closely with those health boards experiencing the greatest challenges to support recovery.

“We will continue to drive improvements through our £850 million Waiting Times Improvement plan and we’re working with our health boards to finalise the £70 million of investment for the next phase.”