The number of Scots waiting longer than the target time in accident and emergency was the second highest on record, figures for December have revealed.
Of the 123,490 patients who sought help at A&E in the final month of 2023, 42,442 had to wait more than four hours to be either admitted, transferred or discharged.
Only the total from December 2022 is higher than that, Public Health Scotland data showed.
Over the course of December 2023, 65.6% of patients in Scotland’s A&E departments were admitted, transferred or discharged within the target time of four hours – with this continuing to be well below the 95% target set by the Scottish Government.
There were 15,107 patients who spent eight hours or more in A&E – this representing 12.5% of cases.
More than one in 20 patients (5.3%) was in A&E for 12 hours or more, the figures showed, a total of 6,467 people.
Meanwhile, weekly figures covering the last full week of January showed 62.7% of patients were seen and either admitted, transferred or discharged within the four-hour target – this being an improvement from the 61.9% recorded the previous week, but below the 65.9% weekly average for 2023.
Of the 25,099 people who sought help at A&E, 15,741 were admitted, transferred or discharged within four hors.
However, 3,689 patients (14.7%) were in A&E for more than eight hours, with 1,768 patients (7%) there for at least half a day.
Commenting on the figures, Health Secretary Michael Matheson said: “Emergency Departments across the country are continuing to deal with heightened winter pressure, with similar demand being felt right throughout the rest of the UK.
“We recognise waiting times are longer than we want them to be for some patients and we continue to work closely with boards to support delivery of sustained improvements.
“Hospital bed occupancy is having a major factor on performance. Our delayed discharge and hospital occupancy action plan is being implemented at pace to help tackle this and deliver actions we know work to reduce delays.
“This includes early planning, deployment of multi-agency teams and involvement of the patient, their family and carers.”
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