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A&E waiting times performance plummets to record low

A&E wait times fell to 63.1% in the week ending November 20 (Victoria Jones/PA)
A&E wait times fell to 63.1% in the week ending November 20 (Victoria Jones/PA)

Waiting times performance in Scotland’s emergency departments has plummeted to a record low again.

For the week ending November 20, performance against the four-hour target for admission, transfer or discharge fell to 63.1%.

This is the same record low recorded at the end of October, figures from Public Health Scotland (PHS) show.

Figures had been increasing, with 65.3% recorded last week, and 65.1% from November 6.

The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in Glasgow recorded the worst ever waiting times for any hospital in Scotland, with just 35.1% of patients seen within the four-hour target.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said the NHS is facing its toughest challenge this winter. (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The number of people attending accident and emergency (A&E) departments fell slightly to 25,465, a fall of 815 from the week ending November 13.

The Scottish Government’s target aims to admit, transfer or discharge 95% of patients within four hours.

However, Heath Secretary Humza Yousaf has warned that the NHS is facing its most difficult winter to date.

Some 3,013 patients spent more than eight hours in A&E last week, while 1,062 waited more than 12 hours.

Responding to the figures, Mr Yousaf said: “Covid continues to impact the performance of services and pandemic backlogs, Brexit-driven staff shortages, and inflation costs have all contributed to make this winter the most challenging the NHS has ever faced.

“Despite this, I am clear that A&E performance is not where it needs to be.

“Delayed discharge continues to be the single biggest factor driving up A&E waits and we are working hard to ensure people are leaving hospital without delay, freeing up vital beds for those who need them most.

“A key focus of our winter plan is on social care and actions to encourage authorities to help ease delays.

“Our £600 million winter plan will see us recruit 1,000 new NHS staff and our £50 million urgent and unscheduled care collaborative looks to drive down A&E waits through scheduled urgent appointments, hospital at home and directing people to the most appropriate care.”

Scottish Tory heath spokesman Sandesh Gulhane said: “These figures show our NHS is heading for a truly terrifying winter on Humza Yousaf’s watch.

“More and more lives are being put on the line every single week in A&E under this Health Secretary. We are still yet to hit December, yet he’s presided over yet another deplorable set of stats.”

Dr Gulhane said the QEUH figures were “especially horrendous”, adding that the data was “completely unacceptable and incredibly alarming for the safety of patients and staff at the hospital”.

He added: “Humza Yousaf has lost the trust of overwhelmed frontline staff and suffering patients. They are paying a heavy price for his ever-growing list of failures and his total inaction to get a grip of the crisis in Scotland’s A&E departments, which stem from his flimsy recovery plan.

“How much longer is it going to take Nicola Sturgeon to accept her Health Secretary has been nothing short of a disaster for our health service?

“Nicola Sturgeon must act without further delay and sack Humza Yousaf now.”