Tories demand solutions to ‘catastrophic’ waiting times in A&E

Spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane branded the figures ‘shameful’ and ‘unacceptable’.

Tories demand solutions to ‘catastrophic’ waiting times in A&E Getty Images

Health Secretary Michael Matheson has been challenged to come up with “concrete solutions” to end “catastrophic” waits in A&E as figures showed more than 300,000 patients waited longer than the target time for treatment over the last three summers.

Analysis of Public Health Scotland figures carried out by the Tories revealed that from June to August in 2021, 2022 and 2023 there were 305,801 patients who spent more than four hours in A&E.

That compares with 254,964 over the same months from 2008 to 2020.

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane branded the figures “shameful” and “unacceptable”.

With Humza Yousaf having served as health secretary from 2021 to 2023, Dr Gulhane said the First Minister was “the worst health secretary since devolution”.

A total of 76,991 patients waited more than eight hours in A&E over the last three summers, and 26,317 for more than 12 hours, and Dr Gulhane said the data showed long waits happened outside traditional winter peak periods.

He added: “Patients and dedicated A&E staff are currently dealing with arguably the worst winter crisis ever, but these shameful figures illustrate that, even in summer, waiting times are dangerously high.

“That’s unacceptable because we know excess waits in emergency wards lead, tragically and inevitably, to needless deaths.

“With Scotland’s NHS on its knees under the SNP, discredited Health Secretary Michael Matheson cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of his predecessor.”

Dr Gulhane said Mr Matheson needs to “come forward with concrete solutions to end these catastrophic wait times, which stem in large part from the dire workforce planning of successive SNP health secretaries”.

Mr Matheson said: “A&E departments across the UK continue to experience pressures, and this is not unique to Scotland.

“Our A&E performance continues to be the best performing in the UK for eight years.”

The Health Secretary said the Scottish Government was working closely with health boards to “support delivery of sustained improvements and to help reduce the number of long delays”.

He added: “We are also supporting boards to maximise capacity to meet demand and our additional investment this winter will see the expansion of Hospital at Home services.

“Hospital bed occupancy has been challenging and to address this, the Delayed Discharge and Hospital Occupancy Action Plan is being implemented at pace, delivering actions we know work to ensure patients receive the right care in the right setting.”

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