A&E services accused of being in 'deadly freefall' over waiting times

Over 56,000 people have spent more than 12 hours in Scottish emergency departments in the last 18 months.

Scottish A&E services accused of being in ‘deadly freefall’ over waiting times STV News

Over 56,000 people have spent more than 12 hours waiting for treatment at Scottish accident and emergency departments since Humza Yousaf was appointed health secretary.

The Scottish Conservatives said 1,276 patients spent at least 12 hours the emergency room in the week ending December 4.

The Scottish Government’s target is that 95% of patients in A&E should be treated and either admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

A Holyrood spokesperson said that “pandemic backlogs, Brexit-related staff shortages and increases in winter viruses” has caused longer waiting times in recent weeks.

But the Tories’ health spokesman, Dr Sandesh Gulhane branded the figures “catastrophic,” and called for First Minster Nicola Sturgeon to dismiss him.

“He [Yousaf]has long given up on hitting the four-hour waiting time target, but now we see the staggering rise in patients waiting half a day or more on his watch,” Dr Guldane said.

“Humza Yousaf is literally putting more and more lives needlessly on the line. It is utterly disgraceful that almost 1,300 patients waited 12 hours or more in the week ending December 4, compared to just over 100 in his first week as Health Secretary.

“This is further damning evidence of why he must be sacked. He has lost the trust of suffering patients and dedicated staff alike.”

Scottish Labour meanwhile said the number of patients spending more than 12 hours in A&E had increased tenfold since 2020.

The party’s health spokesperson, Jackie Baillie, said a total of 42,100 people spent more than “half a day” in emergency rooms between January and October 2022 – compared to 4,266 in the same period two years earlier.

She described Scotland’s A&E services as “in deadly freefall,” adding: “Despite the efforts of hardworking staff, the number of patients spending a shocking 12 hours waiting in A&E has soared this year – dwarfing previous years and putting lives at risk.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said that Scotland’s A&E departments continued to outperform the rest of the UK.

They added: “The situation we find ourselves in is the result of pandemic backlogs, Brexit-related staff shortages and increases in winter viruses such as flu which has seen recent a significant rise in the last few weeks – making this winter the most challenging the NHS has ever faced.

“This is of course not unique to Scotland, Scotland’s A&E continue to outperform A&E services across the UK.

“Scotland already has record numbers of NHS staff and we are recruiting more staff as part of our £600 million winter plan and £50 million investment is targeting A&E waits through services that allow patients to be treated at home or in the community.

“We know the difficulties staff are facing and want to repeat our thanks to all those working across all health and social care services this winter to make sure people receive the care they need.”