Health secretary Humza Yousaf must “answer for his job” as new figures show compliance with the four-hour A&E waiting time standard has again fallen to the worst level on record.
According to statistics released by Public Health Scotland, just 71.5% of people who went to A&E in the week of September 12 were seen and subsequently discharged or admitted to hospital within four hours.
The Scottish Government’s target is 95%.
The figure fell further from the week before, when 74.6% of those who attended A&E were dealt with in four hours.
Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has described the figures as “horrific”, adding: “Behind each and every one is a person in pain, and a team of staff struggling to help them.
“Even in the midst of this crisis, these figures are astonishing.”
Cole-Hamilton went on to say the problem has been “years in the making”.
“Health care professionals cannot simply be conjured out of thin air when the going gets tough.
“It takes years to put them in place, because they are highly qualified and well trained,” he said.
“The Health Secretary had been warned that emergency care was crumbling, and yet after a month of record-breaking waiting times things still aren’t improving.”
With the release of the figures coming hours before Yousaf makes a statement to parliament announcing steps being taken to ease the crisis in the ambulance service – including drafting in staff from the fire service to drive ambulances – the Lib Dem leader said action must be taken on A&E waiting times as well.
“The pressure in the ambulance service and in A&E departments is deeply intertwined, and so as the Health Secretary comes to parliament today he must answer for his job and offer an apology to patients, families and staff,” he said.
“Something seismic needs to be offered to turn this around.”
Some 1895 people out of the 27,354 who went to emergency departments in Scotland in the week of September 12 – 6.9% – spent more than eight hours there.
A further 551 (2%), spent more than 12 hours in A&E.