Thousands spend over four hours in A&E as NHS faces 'sustained pressure'

Only 62% of patients were either admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours in the week ending January 21.

More than a third of patients in accident and emergency departments in Scotland had to wait longer than the target time for care, the latest weekly figures show.

In the week ending January 21, only 62% of patients were either admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

That is down from 64.1% the previous week and continues to be below the goal of having 95% of patients dealt with in that time.

At the flagship Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, almost two-thirds of patients spent more than four hours in A&E – with only 35.7% admitted, transferred or discharged inside the target time.

The latest weekly figures from Public Health Scotland show 1,120 patients in that hospital alone spent more than four hours in A&E.

Across Scotland, 23,615 patients attended the emergency room for help in the week ending January 21 – with 8,963 waiting longer than the target time.

That includes 3,831 patients (16.2%) who were in A&E for eight hours or more, and 1,912 (8.1%) who spent 12 hours or longer there.

Health Secretary Michael Matheson said the service “remains under sustained pressure” as he added that “waiting times are longer than we want them to be for some patients”.

He said: “Emergency departments across Scotland are continuing to deal with heightened winter pressures with similar demand being felt throughout the UK.

“Increased seasonal illness including Covid, flu and norovirus and high levels of occupancy and delayed discharge are all contributing to increased pressure on services.

“Hospital bed occupancy continues to be a major factor impacting on performance.

“To tackle this, our delayed discharge and hospital occupancy action plan is being implemented at pace, delivering actions we know work to reduce delays, including early planning, deployment of multi-agency teams and involvement of the patient, their family and carers.”

But Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said the figures show below-target performance in accident and emergency has “become the new normal”, claiming “years of SNP ministerial disinterest are coming home to roost”.

Mr Cole-Hamilton added that Mr Matheson has been “too distracted by salvaging his career to focus on the needs of staff and patients”.

He added: “Scotland needs a government laser-focused on the day job. Scottish Liberal Democrats would overhaul the NHS recovery plan, bring forward an urgent inquiry into the hundreds of avoidable deaths linked to the emergency care crisis, and implement measures which will meaningfully tackle burnout among staff.”

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