Half a million suffer A&E delays as waiting times hit new record high

Thousands of patients have waited more than eight hours for treatment after attending emergency departments at the start of the month.

Thousands spend over eight hours in A&E as Scottish waiting times reach new record high STV News

The number of patients waiting longer than four hours to be seen at Scotland’s A&E departments has again hit a new record, latest figures show.

Data from Public Health Scotland, released on Tuesday, shows that 9,108 attendees at emergency departments faced a wait of more than four hours in the week up to July 3.

This figure overtakes the previous high of 8,993 people reported last week.

The new data reveals that 25,913 people attended emergency departments across Scotland during the week it covers, meaning just 64.9% were seen and admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

A target set by the Scottish Government aims for 95% of patients to be seen and subsequently discharged or admitted within this timeframe.

A further 3,090 patients spent more than eight hours waiting to be seen, while 1,153 of attendees faced waits of more than 12 hours.

Tuesday marks two years to the day since the Government’s 95% target was last met.

Since then, nearly half a million patients have experienced delays in Scotland’s emergency departments, according to the Scottish Conservatives.

The party said it had calculated that some 489,893 patients have had to wait more than four hours since the target was last achieved in the week ending July 12 2020.

It said that of those patients, 101,647 waited more than eight hours, and 31,936 faced a wait of more than 12 hours.

Craig Hoy, Scottish Tory spokesperson on social care, said on Tuesday that the latest figures should “represent a new source of shame” for Health Secretary Humza Yousaf.

He said: “On every single measure, these are the most appalling A&E waiting times on record.

“Humza Yousaf’s flimsy NHS Recovery Plan and inaction is causing a greater crisis in our A&E departments.

“Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse on his watch, it does.”

Mr Hoy suggested the Health Secretary “has been asleep at the wheel” while the crisis escalates.

“He continues to be distracted by pushing for another divisive referendum, rather than giving our hospitals the resources they urgently need to tackle worsening A&E waiting times,” he said.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, and health spokesperson, Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Waiting times in our A&E departments have reached another record once again.

“Week after week we are seeing NHS patients and staff in need of new hope, but little significant action from this SNP-Green Government to provide it.

“Yet despite this ever-deepening crisis, this Government has decided now is the time to shift focus to an unwanted independence referendum.

“Patients deserve to be seen for treatment quickly and close to home, and staff shouldn’t be constantly overwhelmed, but after 15 years of SNP mismanagement that seems less likely than ever.”

Labour suggested the Scottish Government is “distracted” and putting lives at risk as a result.

The party’s health spokesperson, Jackie Baillie, said: “Today’s statistics are yet another worst ever weekly performance for our A&E departments.

“Long waits in A&E used to be a sign that there were problems and pressures elsewhere in the NHS system, but the SNP have ignored the warnings and now our NHS is in perpetual crisis with thousands of lives being put in risk at A&E departments on a weekly basis.”

Ms Baillie added: “This distracted SNP Government is putting lives at risk and threatening the very existence of our NHS.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “These statistics relate to the peak of the current wave we are experiencing.

“In the four weeks leading up to Sunday July 3, there was an over 100% increase in Covid-related staff absences. This is coming at a time when we have increased numbers of staff on well-deserved leave during school holidays.

“Over the last two years, our NHS has suffered the biggest shock of its 74-year existence. Despite this, Scotland continues to have the best performing A&Es in the UK.”

They added: “Despite these pressures, nearly two-thirds of patients are being seen in our A&E departments within the four-hour target.”

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