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A&E delays still too high, Health Secretary Neil Gray says

The latest figures showed a rise in the number of people waiting longer than the target time of four hours in accident and emergency. (Jeff Moore/PA)
The latest figures showed a rise in the number of people waiting longer than the target time of four hours in accident and emergency. (Jeff Moore/PA)

Delays in Scotland’s accident and emergency departments are still “too high”, Health Secretary Neil Gray conceded, as new figures showed more Scots waiting longer than the target time for help.

He spoke out as new figures showed of the 27,970 people who attended A&E in the week ending June 2, 68.1% were either admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

That is down slightly from 68.4% the previous week, and continues to be significantly below the Scottish Government target, of having 95% of patients dealt with within four hours.

Public Health Scotland’s latest weekly figures showed 8,910 people waited longer than this target time in A&E.

This includes 2,922 patients who were there for eight hours or more, and 1,189 patients who spent at least 12 hours in A&E.

Commenting on the figures, Mr Gray said: “This week’s stats show more than two-thirds of patients were seen within four hours.

“However, we recognise long delays remain too high and we continue to work with Boards to reduce these waits.”

Neil Gray
Health Secretary Neil Gray stressed the NHS was still under ‘sustained pressure’ – adding that this issue was not unique to Scotland (Jane Barlow/PA)

He added: “Health services continue to face sustained pressure and this is not unique to Scotland – with similar challenges being felt right across the UK.

“The 2024-25 Scottish Budget provides more than £19.5 billion for health and social care and an extra £500 million for frontline boards.”

But Scottish Conservative health spokesperson Dr Sandesh Gulhane claimed that “A&E departments are in permanent crisis mode on the SNP’s watch”, as he insisted ministers “still don’t have a plan to fix this situation”.

Dr Gulhane said: “We are now well into June, yet waiting times are continuing to skyrocket with more and more patients suffering potentially deadly delays due to SNP inaction.”

He claimed that “dire workforce planning” by the Scottish Government had contributed to a situation where “it is the shocking norm that nearly 9,000 patients were forced to wait over four hours before being treated in A&E”.

The Tory MSP said: “The SNP’s obsession with independence at the expense of everything else has pushed our NHS to breaking point and they still don’t have a plan to tackle this crisis.”

Scottish Labour health spokesperson Jackie Baillie meanwhile said: “Week after week Scots attending A&E are being asked to accept the unacceptable because of the inaction of this SNP Government.

“Instead of admitting that it simply isn’t good enough, Neil Gray, just like his predecessors, continues to excuse his government’s failure to address this crisis in A&E.

“Our hard-working NHS staff are going above and beyond to prevent catastrophes while these staggering wait times are still putting patients’ lives at risk.”