Number of patients being seen at A&E within target time hits new low

Health secretary Humza Yousaf said that A&E performance 'is not where it needs to be'.

Number of patients in Scottish hospitals being seen at A&E within target time hits new low iStock

The number of patients being seen within target waiting times in Scotland’s emergency departments has hit a new low, figures show.

Just 61.9% of people attending A&E in the week up to November 27 were seen and subsequently admitted or discharged within four hours, according to figures from Public Health Scotland.

The Scottish Government aims for 95% of people to be seen within the four hour time limit.

The figure dropped from 63.1% the week before.

As well as the weekly figures, October was the worst monthly performance on record with 67.6% of patients seen within the target time.

Of the 24,995 people who attended A&E in the week up to November 27, some 1,226 waited longer than 12 hours, while 3,363 waited more than eight hours.

A total of 9,532 attendees were waiting longer than four hours, the figures showed.

At the flagship Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, just 36.8% of people at A&E were dealt with in four hours, although the figure rose from 35.1% the week before.

Health secretary Humza Yousaf has admitted that “A&E performance is not where it needs to be”.

Responding to the figures, Yousaf said: “A number of factors are driving up A&E waits including the level of delayed discharge which is why we are working with health boards to ensure people leave hospital without delay, freeing up vital beds for those who need them most.

“We will continue to see fluctuations in figures over winter, despite this, I am clear that A&E performance is not where it needs to be.

“Our network of Flow Navigation Centres, in place all across the country, are a key asset in relieving pressure on A&E – directing people towards the most appropriate urgent care and offering rapid access to a clinician and scheduled in person, phone or video appointments, where appropriate, to avoid unnecessary long waits.

“More than 23,000 patients have avoided an unnecessary trip to a physical A&E through NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s virtual service alone.”

The Scottish Conservatives said “enough is enough” following the release of the figures and have called for the health secretary to resign.

“Nicola Sturgeon cannot continue to stand idly by week after week as Scotland’s A&E wards plumb new depths under her hopeless health secretary,” said shadow cabinet secretary for health Dr Sandesh Gulhane.

“Sacking Humza Yousaf won’t solve things over night but it’s clear he’s part of the problem, not the solution. His flimsy recovery plan isn’t working and he’s lost the trust of shattered patients and staff.

“The tragic reality, which we must never forget or accept, is that these latest worst-ever figures translate to even more needless deaths on Scotland’s emergency wards.”

He added: “It’s clear the system is broken and dedicated staff and worried patients are paying a heavy price for SNP mismanagement of our A&E departments.

“Instead of coming up with a coherent plan to tackle the crisis, all Humza Yousaf can do is spin dodgy data to protect himself and this SNP Government.

“Enough is enough. We can’t go on like this. Nicola Sturgeon must act without further delay and sack Humza Yousaf now.”

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said the NHS crisis was “getting worse instead of better”, adding: “Thousands of people have been left stranded in A&E for more than 12 hours and spiralling rates of delayed discharge will make this bad picture even worse.

“Staff and patients alike are being failed by Humza Yousaf and by the SNP Government, who are sitting on their hands while our NHS collapses.

“This record-breaking health secretary needs to go before winter hits and this crisis gets even more deadly.”

The Scottish Lib Dems accused the health secretary of losing control of the NHS.

“The health secretary must fundamentally change his approach and get control of this crisis, otherwise he will need to go because patients and staff have been taken for granted for far too long,” said leader Alex Cole-Hamilton.

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