Scottish Labour claim 'patients in danger' over 'dire' A&E waiting times

Latest figures show more than 8,000 patients waited more than the target four hours to be seen by hospital staff.

Jackie Baillie brands A&E waiting times in Scotland ‘dire’ as three in ten patients not seen within four hours iStock
A&E: More than 8,000 patients waited over four hours to be seen at the start of June.

Scottish Labour have slammed latest A&E waiting times in Scotland as “dire”, as latest figures revealed three in ten patients were not seen in the four-hour target time in the first week of June. 

Figures released on Monday showed that of the 27,034 patients who attended at A&E in the week ending June 12, a total of 69.2% were seen and either admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

The Scottish Government has set a target of having 95% of patients seen within four hours, however the latest weekly figures showed 8,335 patients waited longer than that.

There were 2,235 patients who waited eight hours or more, with 761 spending 12 hours or more in A&E.

Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said the figures showed “hundreds of lives put at risk” due to long waiting times. 

She said: “These dire figures represent thousands of people left in pain for hours on end and hundreds of lives put at risk.

“It’s been almost a year since performance starting plummeting, but there are still no signs of recovery, despite the tireless efforts of incredible NHS staff.

“The SNP’s gross negligence is putting patients in danger and leaving staff exhausted – it is not good enough.

“Humza Yousaf must act now to put an end to this deadly crisis once and for all.”

Meanwhile the Scottish Conservative’s branded the figures “appalling”, and called on the Scottish health secretary to act.

Shadow health secretary Dr Sandesh Gulhane MSP said: “It’s completely unacceptable that more than 30% of patients are waiting at least four hours to be seen – and the steep rise in the number being forced to wait half a day or more is particularly shocking. Indeed, last week it was reported that one patient had waited a scarcely-believable 40 hours to be seen.

“Humza Yousaf has to get a grip of this chaos and finally accept that his flimsy Covid Recovery Plan isn’t up to the job.”

The figures, published by Public Health Scotland, showed that just two health boards met the 95% target – with NHS Western Isles and NHS Shetland dealing with 99.1% and 95.8% of patients within four hours respectively.

In NHS Forth Valley, which has just one hospital with A&E facilities, just under half of patients were either admitted, transferred or discharged within the target time.

Meanwhile Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital dealt with 47.5% of patients within the four-hour limit, while at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary 48.5% of patients were treated within the target time.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The latest weekly figures show that more than two-thirds of patients are being seen within the four-hour target, despite the unprecedented impact of the pandemic on services.

“We continue to see high levels of Covid transmission and people in our hospitals with the virus. As these numbers begin to ease we expect to see improvements in performance.”

The spokesperson continued: “Our new Urgent and Unscheduled Care Collaborative programme, which is supported by £50m of funding, looks to support the implementation of a range of measures to reduce A&E waiting times and improve patient experience, this includes alternatives to hospital-based treatment.

“For many, A&E will not be the right place for their healthcare needs. People should consider whether their condition is an emergency, such as a stroke, heart attack or major trauma, before going to A&E.

“Local GPs can be contacted during the day for non-critical care, as well as local pharmacies.”

The Scottish Government spokesperson also stressed: “Scotland continues to have the best performing A&Es in the UK, outperforming those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for over six years.”