'Disgraceful' increase in number of patients facing long waits at A&E

Public Health Scotland figures show a rise in the number of people waiting more than eight hours at A&E.

Scottish Conservatives blast ‘disgraceful’ increase in number of patients facing long waits at A&E iStock

An increase in the number of people waiting for more than eight hours in Scotland’s A&E departments has been branded ‘disgraceful’.

According to official statistics, 3,427 patients spent more than eight hours in an emergency department during the week ending October 2.

Public Health Scotland data also showed there were 1,510 patients who spent more than 12 hours in A&E in that same period.

It represents an increase in the number of patients facing long waits in A&E departments.

Over the previous period, in the week ending September 25, a total of 2,864 patients spent more than eight hours in A&E.

There were 1,039 patients who spent more than 12 hours in an emergency department in that time.

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane branded the statistics “disgraceful” and criticised the Government over its handling of A&E performance.

He also urged health secretary Humza Yousaf to produce a “coherent strategy” to tackle the crisis.

“The SNP have presided over yet another week of disgraceful A&E stats, with the number of patients waiting over eight and 12 hours once again hitting record highs,” he said.

“We may have become used to these shameful figures, but that does not change the reality for thousands of patients who have been left waiting in pain and discomfort for hours upon end.

“Yet despite record numbers of patients waiting more than half a day in our emergency departments, the health secretary dismissed nurses who challenged him at the SNP conference this weekend as ‘patronising’.

“Humza Yousaf has no idea of the chaos that patients and hardworking NHS staff are facing because he refuses to listen to the people on the ground.

“His so-called ‘winter plan’ is too little and far too late.

“Humza Yousaf needs to stop tinkering at the edges, start listening to NHS workers and produce a coherent strategy to get this crisis under control or more patients will suffer and die needlessly as a result of his failures.”

Scottish Labour health spokesperson Jackie Baillie warned that the NHS is facing a “humanitarian crisis” this winter, with the service unprepared for the level of demand it faces.

She said: “The SNP once had a target that 95% of patients would be seen within four hours – now they are not even meeting it for people who have been waiting a shocking 12 hours.

“This is an NHS in deadly freefall due to the incompetence of Humza Yousaf.

“Rather than take action to end this crisis, Humza Yousaf would rather avoid scrutiny and turn his back on frontline NHS staff who work incredibly hard to keep us safe.

“Years of SNP cuts and neglect have left our NHS unprepared for the level of demand it now faces.

“With industrial action looming we are facing a humanitarian crisis in the NHS this winter.

“It’s time for Nicola Sturgeon to put her failing health secretary into special measures and get to grips with this crisis.”

Health secretary Humza Yousaf said: “A&E departments are working under significant pressure and, in common with healthcare systems in the UK and globally, the pandemic continues to affect services.

“Recovery from the pandemic will not happen overnight and we are working with boards on measures to reduce pressure as we enter what will be a challenging winter period.

“We are recruiting 1,000 new NHS staff, including 750 frontline nurses from overseas. Our £50m Urgent and Unscheduled Care Collaborative looks to drive down A&E waits by offering alternatives to hospital, such as Hospital at Home; directing people to more appropriate urgent care settings and scheduling urgent appointments to avoid long waits. The roll-out of our Out-patient Antimicrobial Therapy service also allows patients to be treated at home or in the community and has already saved 45,000 bed days.

“This week’s A&E statistics are a partial capture as NHS Shetland’s figures were not able to be included.”