A&E departments falling short of wait time targets

Lothian's A&E departments are performing better than the national average. Picture: Greg Macvean
Lothian's A&E departments are performing better than the national average. Picture: Greg Macvean
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HOSPITALS in the Lothians are still failing to meet tough government waiting times targets for A&E departments despite performing well against other health boards.

Figures released as part of new weekly waiting times disclosures revealed yesterday that NHS Lothian saw 93.2 per cent of patients within four hours in the week leading up to March 1 – compared with 94.5 per cent the week before.

This falls below the Scottish Government’s interim target of 95 per cent but well above the national average of 86.9 per cent.

Individual hospitals performed slightly worse than the week before, with the Sick Kids hospital seeing 98.6 per cent of patients, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary seeing 92.3 per cent, and St John’s near Livingston seeing 90.7 per cent of patients.

After bowing to rising political pressure, the government started to publish weekly data last week.

Health Secretary Shona Robison blamed the “challenging” winter for increasing the number of people going to A&E and said investment to target bed blocking would help to improve matters.

Melanie Johnson, director of unscheduled care at NHS Lothian, said: “We are encouraged by these figures, which show that we are continuing to provide swift and effective care for our patients at our emergency departments, including at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, which is the busiest in Scotland.”

She added: “I would like to thank all of our staff for their hard work and dedication and assure patients that we are not complacent and will continue to improve access and systems to drive down waiting times.”

The health board’s weekly figure is a significant improvement on monthly waiting figures during January 2015, which revealed hospitals saw 88.4 per cent of patients within four hours. Again, this was also above the national average of 85.4 per cent.

The government needs to focus on addressing the root of why the targets are being missed, said Labour Lothian MSP Sarah Boyack.

She said: “We’re still seeing the Scottish Government’s A&E waiting times targets being missed, with 500 patients in Scotland waiting for more than eight hours in the last week.

“In Lothians I think the key issue is understanding what are the issues which are holding back progress on meeting the targets. As the weather gets better the expectation is that the figures will improve.

“We need to give our NHS the support it needs to deliver the care Scots deserve.”

The worst performing health board was NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, where only 77.9 per cent of patients were seen in four hours.

lizzy.buchan@edinburghnews.com