More than a quarter of patients waited longer than four hours to be seen in Scotland’s accident and emergency departments after another deterioration in waiting time performance.
Just 73.2% of A&E patients were seen within the government’s four-hour target, according to the latest NHS Scotland figures.
It is the sixth time in seven weeks that the proportion of patients admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours exceeded 25%, with the Scottish Government target set at 95% of patients seen in that time.
The figures also reveal that, of the 6,493 patients who waited longer than four hours during the week ending November 21, there were 1,333 who waited more than eight hours and 374 over 12 hours.
Weekly A&E performance had improved slightly in each of the previous three weeks after recovering from a record high of 30.4% of patients who waited longer than the target time.
Despite a two percentage point improvement on the previous week, NHS Forth Valley remains the worst-performing health board with 40.2% of patients experiencing waits of four hours or more.
It is followed by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (33%) and NHS Grampian (27.9%).
NHS Tayside also became the first mainland health board to exceed the 95% target – seeing 97.6% of its 1,400 A&E patients within four hours – since the end of June 2021.
The only other health boards to achieve that target were NHS Western Isles (100% of its 87 patients) and NHS Orkney, with 96.6% of its 88 patients seen in that time.
Responding to the figures, Scottish Conservative health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane said: “Once again we see A&E waiting times unacceptably high and getting worse, despite (Health Secretary) Humza Yousaf’s complacent assurance last week that things were moving in the right direction.
“The Royal College of Emergency Medicine Scotland has rightly pointed out that appallingly high waiting times are leading to preventable deaths – yet the SNP inexplicably criticised the data rather than take action.
“Even with the continued, invaluable support of the UK Armed Forces and the Health Secretary’s desperate efforts to divert patients from A&E to equally overstretched GP services, more than a quarter of emergency patients are waiting more than four hours to be seen.
“I’m deeply concerned by these figures. As the peak winter period looms, the SNP Government must belatedly get a grip of this A&E crisis or the situation will get even worse.”
Scottish Labour’s Health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “These atrocious figures show the SNP are still failing to get a grip on the crisis ripping through our NHS.
“We cannot let this chaos become the new normal.
“Staff are working tirelessly to plug the gaps, but there is only so much they can do.
“There is no more time to waste when lives are on the line. The SNP must act now to get emergency services back on their feet before winter really bites.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We have seen a steady improvement in these figures in recent weeks following our investment to address capacity issues in A&E.
“However, we know that emergency units across the UK continue to be hit by the direct and indirect impacts of Covid.”
She added: “This week, as we get into the winter months, the A&E performance have slightly dropped.
“However, Scotland’s core A&E departments continue to outperform those in the rest of the UK and have done so for more than six years, with today’s figures confirming that over 73% of people were seen and subsequently admitted, transferred or discharged within 4 hours at our A&E departments.
“The Health Secretary has been very clear this will be the most difficult winter in NHS history and that’s why we’ve announced £300 million of measures to increase NHS and social care capacity as part of our strategy to simultaneously tackle the various issues combining in extra A&E waits.
“We are in daily contact with every (health) board and are monitoring the situation closely.”
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