Scotland: A&E waiting time performance hits record low for third week

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon

Performance against the four-hour waiting time target for A&E fell to 75.1% for the week ending August 22.

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Scotland’s A&E waiting time performance has hit a record low for a third week running.

Performance against the four-hour waiting time target for A&E fell to 75.1% for the week ending August 22.

In the previous week, 76% of patients were admitted, transferred or discharged within the target time.

The figure stood at 76.% in the week ending August 8.

The Scottish Government target is for 95% of all A&E patients to wait no longer than four hours from arrival to admission, discharge or transfer.

This target has not been met since July 2020.

There were a total of 26,635 attendances in A&E units for the week ending August 22.

A total of 1,164 patients spent more than eight hours in an A&E department, while 268 spent more than 12 hours there.

Other statistics released by Public Health Scotland on Tuesday showed an increase in the number of patients waiting for key diagnostic tests such as endoscopy, a CT scan or an MRI scan.

This rose by 9.1% between the end of March to the end of June to a total of 115,253 patients.

It means the total number of patients waiting for the key tests is 16.9% higher than the same time last year.

Responding to the diagnostic figures, David Ferguson, of Cancer Research UK, said: “It’s unacceptable that this target hasn’t been met for 11 years now and it’s clear action is long overdue.

“Last week’s news that there’s to be new investment in diagnostic services is welcome.

“A commitment to creating new radiographer training places will, in time, also be helpful.

“But this is little comfort to patients who are on the waiting list now. They need reassurances that their symptoms will be investigated as a priority.

“Those who are experiencing symptoms that could be cancer also need to have confidence that after visiting a GP their health concerns will be investigated in a timely manner.”

Health Secretary Huma Yousaf said the coronavirus pandemic has inevitably hit A&E departments, while the Scottish Government has recently offered £12 million to health boards for emergency care.

He said: “Scotland’s core A&E departments have outperformed those in the rest of the UK for more than six years.

“Our NHS staff have faced unprecedented pressures over recent weeks.

“They work tirelessly and consistently to respond to the pandemic whilst continuing to provide vital treatment and optimal patient care.

“We are in daily contact with every board and are monitoring the situation closely.

“Hospitals are reporting increased levels of people attending A&E who are much sicker and require higher levels of care.

“Weekly performance is impacted due to a range of challenges including high attendances, staffing pressures due to isolation and annual leave and the continued requirement for infection control precautions that is affecting the time people need to spend in A&E.”