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A&E waiting times worsen but remain better than record low

The figures were released by Public Health Scotland (Peter Byrne/PA)
The figures were released by Public Health Scotland (Peter Byrne/PA)

Waiting times at Scotland’s A&E departments have dropped in the most recent week, according to new figures from Public Health Scotland.

In the week up to May 8, 69.6% of those who attended emergency departments were seen within four hours – more than 25% lower than the Scottish Government target of 95%.

The figure dropped from 71.6% the week before.

But the figure remained better than the record low seen in recent months – with just 66.2% seen within the target period in the week up to March 20.

According to the most recent figures, some 7,960 of the 26,219 attendances in the week to May 8 waited more than four hours to be seen.

Meanwhile, 2,132 people waited more than eight hours and 645 waited more than 12 hours.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “We know the situation may fluctuate as hospitals manage pandemic-related challenges and backlogs, but we expect the pressure in A&E to ease as Covid cases in hospital continue to decline.

“Boards are continuing to safely roll out the relaxation of Covid infection and control measures aimed at easing patient flows.

“We are also continuing to enhance capacity for Hospital at Home, and a range of other services which allow people to be treated at home rather than in hospital.

“Scotland has the best performing A&Es in the UK. In fact, Scotland’s A&Es have outperformed those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for over six years.”

But Scottish Tory health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane said the figures were “dangerously and unacceptably long”, adding: “The upshot of this is that lives are being needlessly and tragically lost.

“It’s dreadful that more than 30% of patients are having to wait at least four hours to be seen.

“But these appalling figures are the product of a Health Secretary reliant on a flimsy, inadequate Covid Recovery Plan and an SNP Government guilty of terrible workforce planning.”

While Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie denounced the statistics as “damning”.

“These are not mere numbers – these are mothers, fathers, children and grandparents,” she said.

“A&E staff are working tirelessly but they are being failed by a Health Minister who is more concerned with bolstering the ranks of spin doctors than supporting frontline nursing staff.

“With so many people waiting unacceptable lengths of time at the QEUH, it is clear that this winter NHS crisis has become a perpetual crisis.

“This cannot be allowed to continue.

“Humza Yousaf must listen to the staff and patients and act to save lives.”