The First Minister and Health Secretary have been told to “do their job” and reduce NHS waiting lists as figures showed one Scot waited 84 hours in A&E.
Figures published this week show Scotland’s emergency departments reported their worst waiting times on record, with just 63.5% of people being seen and subsequently admitted or discharged within four months.
And at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said statistics given to his party through freedom of information legislation showed one patient at University Hospital Crosshouse in Ayrshire waited 84 hours and 10 minutes for treatment in January of this year.
The wait is some 21 times longer than the four-hour target set by the Scottish Government for 95% of patients to be seen.
“New information that we’ve uncovered shows just how horrendous waiting times are in Scottish hospitals just now,” he said during First Minister’s Questions.
“An FOI response has revealed that one patient at a hospital in Ayrshire had to wait 84 hours for treatment.
“That’s three-and-a-half days. The equivalent of turning up for emergency treatment right now, and not being seen until next week, in the early hours of Monday morning.
“First Minister, is that really what anyone in Scotland should go through in 2022?”
Ms Sturgeon replied: “No, and that is clearly an unacceptable situation, but also an exceptional situation, and I am certainly more than willing to look into the particular circumstances around that.”
The request from the Tories only covered NHS Ayrshire and Arran and NHS Borders, but showed a number of other extremely long waits endured by patients.
The longest wait every month in Ayrshire and Arran has consistently been above 50 hours since October last year, with one person waiting 79 hours and 35 minutes at Crosshouse.
While the longest wait in the Borders in the past year was 64 hours – the equivalent of more than two and half days – in July.
The First Minister and Health Secretary Humza Yousaf were also told to “do their job”, by the leader of Scottish Labour.
Anas Sarwar said nearly 750,000 people are currently on NHS waiting lists in Scotland, while more than 38,000 people have waited longer than 12 hours since the NHS recovery plan was published last year.
“Frankly, people are sick of the same old excuses and this SNP Government always looking for someone else or something else to blame,” he said.
“Across Scotland people are getting the same inadequate answer from this Government: Wait.
“Wait in fear for a cancer diagnosis, wait in pain for a hip replacement, wait for others in an ambulance outside A&E, wait anxiously for their child to get mental health treatment and today we discover that life expectancy has dropped again, for a second year running, all under Nicola Sturgeon’s watch.
“After 15 years in power, after 15 years of running our NHS, how long will the people of Scotland have to wait for you and your Health Secretary to do your job?”
In response, the First Minister said: “We will continue to do our jobs and, ultimately, as always it has been, it is for the people of Scotland to decide whether they want us to continue to do our jobs.”
She added: “A two-year pandemic for Scotland, for every country, has presented real and very significant challenges and every day we seek to address these challenges and support those on the front line who are doing that.”
The First Minister also said the Scottish Government will continue to take action “with one hand tied behind our back” to tackle poverty.
She continued: “While I take full responsibility for performance across all of these things in Scotland, I come back to the reality in Scotland in terms of the National Health Service that whatever the challenges we face, thanks to the dedication of those working in our National Health Service, it is performing better than its counterpart in England where the Conservatives are in power and better than its counterpart in Wales, where Labour are currently in Government.
“We’ll continue to address these challenges, we’ll continue to take the steps necessary to do so and we’ll continue to ask the Scottish people to put their trust in us to do exactly that.”
Dr Crawford McGuffie, medical director, said: “NHS Ayrshire & Arran is committed to providing safe and effective health care and treatment for our population in as timely a way as possible.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic and throughout 2021/22 we have experienced very high pressure across all our health and care services.
“At times, we experienced a high demand for our unscheduled care services and our staff worked hard to assess and treat patients as quickly as possible. Each patient attending our Emergency Departments (EDs) is triaged on arrival and clinical teams prioritise our patients based on clinical need.
“We are aware that, unfortunately, sometimes patients have waited significantly longer than we would wish and we unreservedly apologise for that.
“Our clinical teams continuously review and manage risk and assess for harm associated with prolonged waits. The patients who are delayed within the system have been assessed and have processes for review that mitigate the risk of these delays.
“Wherever possible, additional staff are deployed to support these patients and our staff. This is not the care we aim to provide and our daily focus on discharges supports the flow of patients from our emergency departments.
“I would like to thank patients for their help and understanding as we continue to work under extremely
difficult circumstances. If we all work together we can ensure that our Emergency Departments are there to look after those who need them most.”
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