The Scottish Liberal Democrats have branded a lack of action over A&E waiting times “nothing short of devastating”.
Latest figures have revealed the Scottish Government’s target for patients to be seen within four hours has been consistently missed for the past two years.
Ministers aim to have 95% of people in emergency departments seen and subsequently admitted or discharged within four hours, but that target was last met in the week ending July 12 2020.
While waiting times shrunk during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, prior to the outbreak of Covid-19 it had been almost three years since the target was last met by emergency departments.
The most recent figures from the week of June 26 saw 8,993 waiting more than four hours, the highest number on record.
Meanwhile just 67.3% of patients were seen in less time.
MSP Willie Rennie has called on the health secretary to implement a new strategy to tackle the crisis, highlighting pressures NHS staff are under.
Rennie said: “The record-breaking number of people waiting longer than four hours in Scotland’s A&E departments, with next to no action being taken, is nothing short of devastating.
“The true story is that the government have been infecting A&E departments with overwhelming pressure for five years. The only time the target was met was during the first lockdown. They should have seen this coming.
“The cause of this failure is failure to cope in the rest of the NHS and social care system. The shortage of care at home packages backs up patients in the hospital, impacting almost every ward as well as A&E. Staff are overstretched and burnt in every corner.
“That’s why I am calling on the health secretary to fix the A&E crisis once and for all.
“He must listen to Scottish Liberal Democrat calls for a Burnout Prevention Strategy. The Scottish Government must also train and recruit health workers until safe staffing standards by the Royal Colleges are met.
“We need to restore the public’s confidence in politicians to get on with the jobs that need doing and Scottish Liberal Democrats have the strategy to achieve that.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Over the last two years our NHS has suffered the biggest shock of its 74 year existence, despite this, Scotland continues to have the best performing A&Es in the UK, outperforming those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for over six years.
“The number of Covid inpatients in hospital is rising which is resulting in reduced capacity in our hospitals and staff absences, and having a detrimental impact on delays in A&E. Despite these pressures, nearly two-thirds of patients are being seen in our A&E departments within the four-hour target.
“Our new Urgent and Unscheduled Care Collaborative programme, supported by £50m, will support the implementation of a range of measures to reduce A&E waiting times and improve patient experience, including alternatives to hospital-based treatment.”
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