Politics

A&E waiting times show further improvement

WAITING time performance in Scotland’s A&E departments has continued to improve as the impact of the Omicron variant on staff shortages wanes. 

However the latest figures still showed more than a fifth of people going to casualty last week waited longer than than the four hour target.

Public Health Scotland reported 77.7 per cent of patients were seen on time in the week to January 23, up from 74.9% the previous week.

The number of people waiting over four hours fell from 5,232 to 4,773, while the number waiting over eight hours fell from 1,391 to 966 and the number waiting over 12 hours fell from 475 to 301. 

The improvements were in spite of an increase in the number of people attending A&E in the last seven days, up from 20,822 to 21,387.

The target is for 95% of patients to be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

It has not been met nationally since July 2020.

It has been below 80% since mid July this year.

The worst performing NHS board was NHS Borders for a second week running, with 71.1% of A&E patients seen within four hours, although this was up from 69.7%.

Public Health Scotland also published monthly A&E waiting time stats for December showing 75.7% of patients were seen within four hours, down slightly from 75.9% in November.

Overall, 5,672 people waited more than eight hours in A&E in December and 1,769 waiting more than 12 hours.

Tory MSP Dr Sandesh Gulhane said Health Secretary Humza Yousaf was to blame. 

He said: “Just how bad do things have to get before the Health Secretary finally shows leadership and outlines a detailed, workable plan for tackling a crisis that is leading to the needless loss of lives?

 “It’s unacceptable that a quarter of patients are not being seen within four hours and a scandal that almost 1,800 people had to wait half a day to be seen on an ‘emergency’ ward.

“Despite the wonderful support of UK Armed Forces and his pleas for patients to stay away from A&E departments unless their condition is life-threatening, it’s clear Humza Yousaf has no grip on this crisis.”

The Scottish Liberal Democrats highlighted other data out today on delayed discharge patients, showing the problem was now back to pre-pandemic levels.

There were 47,177 days spent in hospital by people who were well enough to leave in December last year, a rise of 41% compared to the 33,343 days of December 2020.

The average number of beds occupied per day due to delayed discharges was 1,522, down 3% on November, but still “consistent with pre-pandemic figures”.

Other figures show the number of people stuck in hospital because they were waiting for a care at home package in December has almost doubled since April.

LibDem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton urged the Scottish Government to drop their plans to create a National Care Service, calling it “their centralisation mission”.

He said: “The number of people stuck in hospital unnecessarily has virtually doubled since spring, showing the pressure and gaps in social care in the community.

“If the Health Secretary wanted to genuinely help patients and staff this winter, he would focus his time and attention on fixing the problems that make securing care packages so difficult. 

“Instead, the Scottish Government are consulting on centralising services, which is years away and already seeing kickback from practitioners across the country. The solution to social care isn’t a centralised ministerial takeover.”

 

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