Number waiting at A&E for more than eight hours at highest on record

The Scottish Government's target of 95% waiting within four hours has not been met since the beginning of the Covid pandemic.

Number of people waiting for more than eight hours for A&E at highest on record iStock

The number of people waiting for more than eight hours at A&E is the highest on record, new figures reveal.

Around 3,553 people waited more than eight hours at emergency departments in Scotland in the week up to October 9, rising from 3,427 the week before to a record high.

The latest statistics from Public Health Scotland also reveal only 64.2% of A&E attendees were seen within the Scottish Government’s four hour waiting target, for the same week.

However, this proportion remains above the record low of 63.5%.

The number of people who waited half a day at A&E fell slightly from 1,510 – a record high – to 1,506 in the same timescale.

While the Scottish Government have said 95% of patients should be seen within the four-hour target, this number has not been met since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Responding to the figures, health secretary Humza Yousaf said the pressures were “driven” by delays in discharging patients from hospital.

He said: “A&E departments are working under significant pressure and, in common with other healthcare systems across the UK and globally, the pandemic continues to impact performance.

“Recovery from Covid will not happen overnight, which is why we are continuing to work with boards on a number of measures to reduce pressure this winter.

“We are recruiting 1,000 new NHS staff, including 750 frontline nurses from overseas. Our £50m urgent and unscheduled care collaborative looks to help improve A&E performance by offering alternative routes to care.

“This includes our out-patient antimicrobial therapy service which allows patients to be treated at home or in the community and has already saved 45,000 bed days.

“The pressures experienced by A&E are driven by delays in discharge elsewhere in our hospitals.

“That’s why a focus of our winter plan is on social care and actions to encourage integration authorities to help alleviate these delays.”

However, Scottish Tory public health spokeswoman Tess White said the figures are “only getting worse” under the Health Secretary.

She stated: “This is nothing short of a scandal.

“The Scottish Conservatives have repeatedly warned that unless the SNP took immediate action, our A&E departments will be overwhelmed this winter.

“Humza Yousaf’s wafer-thin winter plan has failed to make any sort of dent in the mounting pressures our hospitals are facing.”

While Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “Week after week we are presented with a humanitarian crisis in our A&E departments.

“That we are now seeing more people waiting over eight hours for treatment than ever before is a deadly portent of the coming winter.

“Despite the crisis in A&E, the health secretary has gone AWOL and only appears to provide commentary on more disarray this winter due to his inaction.

“Staff are working tirelessly, but they are being left high and dry by this failed health secretary.”

Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said the Scottish Government “would rather create a new crisis for Scotland than deal with the one unfolding before our very eyes in A&E” – referencing the new paper on Scottish independence released by Nicola Sturgeon on Monday.

He said: “Nicola Sturgeon spent all of yesterday pontificating on currency and borders she wants to erect with England.

“The SNP would rather create a new crisis for Scotland than deal with the one unfolding before our very eyes in A&E.

“Patients and staff alike are being taken for granted.

“Humza Yousaf is no better than the First Minister. His NHS statement was completely devoid of substance.

“Patients and staff cannot carry on like this.

“The health secretary must drop his opposition to an urgent inquiry into the avoidable deaths linked to the crisis in emergency care.”

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