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'Completely failed' SNP savaged as A&E waiting times in Scotland surge to record high

Labour has slammed the SNP, led by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, over the record 1,015 people who waited more than 12 hours in Scottish A&E wards in the week to March 20 – a figure at odds with the party’s target for 95 percent of patients to be seen and discharged or admitted to hospital within four hours. The concerning figure came as NHS Scotland saw the highest level of patients with Covid since the pandemic began and led to cross-party criticism of Humza Yousaf’s performance as Health Secretary.

The number of patients waiting more than half a day for treatment, which represented an increase of 35 percent on the previous seven days, was at its highest since comparable records started in early 2015.

Those waiting more than eight hours, meanwhile, jumped by 18 percent – from 2,216 to 2,615.

The government’s target has not been met since July 2020.

Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour health spokeswoman, said: “Another week and another record-breaking failure in A&E due to the SNP.

“Staff are working tirelessly but they are being completely failed by Humza Yousaf and his SNP government.

“Thousands of lives are now being risked in A&E departments on a weekly basis – this is completely unacceptable.

“Experts have warned that hundreds of lives have been lost due to the crisis in A&E.

“It’s about time that Humza Yousaf realised that he is a government minister and not a commentator on this crisis.

“Humza Yousaf must act to support NHS services before more lives are needlessly lost.”

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine last week warned around 240 people had died this year as a result of delays at A&E departments.

The ratio of people seen within the four-hour target hit its previous low in the week to January 9, at 67.3 percent.

After rising in February, it dropped throughout March, from 70.8 percent in the week to February 27 to 70.5 percent the week to March 6. It then fell to 68.4 percent the week after, until finally reaching a highly scrutinised 66.2 percent.

Tory MSP Dr Sandesh Gulhane, echoing Labour’s remarks, said: “These worst-ever A&E waiting time figures are simply atrocious. They are a damning indictment of Humza Yousaf’s time as Health Secretary and ought to shame the SNP Government.

“We know excess waits inevitably lead to needless deaths. So for more than one in three patients to be waiting over four hours — and 1,000-plus patients in just one week having to wait more than half a day — is hugely alarming.

“Scotland’s emergency wards are beyond breaking point. Two of our largest health boards are pleading with patients not to attend A&E unless their condition is life-threatening.

“Overworked frontline NHS staff and worried patients should not have to accept this perpetual crisis.”

The worst performing health board last week was NHS Forth Valley, where only 52.7 percent of patients were seen on time, followed by NHS Lanarkshire at 56.3 percent and NHS Lothian at 61.7 percent

The worsening waiting times happened despite a slight drop in the number of people attending A&E, which dipped from 25,616 to 25,506.

However, hospitals have seen increased pressure from positive coronavirus cases, with NHS Greater Glasgow and NHS Lanarkshire warning people against visiting A&E unless strictly necessary, to which Mr Yousaf linked the delays.

He said: “The unprecedented impact of the pandemic is continuing to take its toll on our NHS and these latest figures continue to underline the extent of the pressure on services.

“We are currently seeing record high levels of Covid transmission and more people in our hospitals with Covid than at any time during the pandemic and this rise in recent weeks has inevitably had an impact on services like A&E.

“The Chief Nursing Office is now reviewing national infection control guidance with a view to easing current restrictions which have added to hospital pressures through reduced bed numbers.

“Staff absences and a growing number of acutely unwell patients, resulting in longer stays, is also having an impact.”

He added: “For many A&E will not be the right place for their healthcare need.

“People should consider whether their condition is an emergency, such as a stroke, heart attack or major trauma, before going to A&E.

“Local GPs can be contacted during the day for non-critical care, as well as local pharmacies. If you think, you need A&E but it is not an emergency NHS 24 telephone service is available on 111.”



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