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Latest A&E data show waiting times continue to improve

The latest Public Health Scotland report has shown a slight improvement on emergency department wait times (Victoria Jones/PA)
The latest Public Health Scotland report has shown a slight improvement on emergency department wait times (Victoria Jones/PA)

Waiting times at Scotland’s emergency departments have slightly improved for the second consecutive week, latest figures show.

However almost a third of attendees waited longer than the targeted time of four hours to be seen.

Public Health Scotland (PHS) data showed 8,034 people waited more than four hours in the week up to July 17.

It is an improvement from the previous week’s report of 8,180 patients waiting.

The Scottish Government target, however, aims for 95% of patients to be seen and subsequently discharged or admitted within this timeframe.

Some 25,048 people attended one of the emergency departments in Scotland, meaning 67.9% of attendances were seen within four hours.

But Scottish Conservatives health spokesperson, Dr Sandesh Gulhane, said the wait times were well short of the target time.

His comments come as the PHS report also showed that 2,413 patients spent more than eight hours in an emergency department, while 901 spent more than 12 hours.

Both of these figures are improvements from the previous week of 2,566 and 909 respectively.

Dr Gulhane said: “These latest dreadful figures are all the more worrying because they come at what is traditionally the least busy time of year on our emergency wards.

“It’s a shameful reflection on Humza Yousaf that, at the height of summer, almost a third of patients are having to wait more than four hours to be seen – including more than 900 people who had to wait over 12 hours – because excess A&E delays lead directly to lives being needlessly lost.

“This crisis is a product of the SNP’s dire workforce planning over several years, which has left heroic frontline NHS workers simply unable to cope with the huge demands placed on them.

“The Health Secretary also has to realise his flimsy Covid Recovery Plan isn’t cutting it and needs replacing – but sadly the SNP are more fixated with pushing for another divisive referendum than on fixing Scotland’s NHS.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said the waiting times had not surpassed 70% since May and added excessive waiting times have become the “new normal”.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The pandemic has presented our NHS with the greatest challenge it has faced in its 74-year existence, despite this, Scotland continues to have the best performing A&Es in the UK, outperforming those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for over six years.

“The number of Covid inpatients we are seeing in hospital has been increasing, resulting in reduced capacity in our hospitals and staff absences, and having a detrimental impact on delays in A&E.

“Despite this extreme pressure, latest stats show more than two-thirds of patients are being seen in our A&E departments within the four-hour target.

“Our new Urgent and Unscheduled Care Collaborative programme, supported by £50 million, will support the implementation of a range of measures to reduce A&E waiting times and improve patient experience, including alternatives to hospital-based treatment.”